Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins – President
On July 5, 2017, Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins was appointed by the Board of Trustees as the 18th President of Bennett College. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Dawkins served as Interim President for just under a year. She came to Bennett College in November 2015 as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
During her one-semester tenure as Interim President and as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Dawkins significantly impacted students, faculty and staff. As Provost she provided leadership for the recruitment of new personnel, launched a leadership institute, restarted academic and living learning communities, increased professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, jump-started distance education courses, obtained approval of numerous new policies to increase enrollment and faculty governance, attained approval of an ESL (English as a Second Language) Center, traveled abroad to Colombia, South America, with choir students and faculty and enjoyed other accomplishments. Under her leadership, the Institution received a UNCF Career Pathway grant and a Kenan Foundation grant to support foster care students. Dr. Dawkins also changed the way Bennett College offers its curriculum to ensure students are able to secure the courses they need to graduate in four years. Furthermore she, along with faculty, promoted a theme across campus to heighten student, faculty and staff awareness of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
While Dr. Dawkins was Interim President, Bennett College in June signed a Memorandum of Understanding with American Language Academy to increase the Institution’s numbers of international students. Also during her time as Interim President, she was highly engaged with students. In late May, Dawkins traveled with eight students and a staff member to Seoul, South Korea, to establish faculty and student exchange programs. She also took students to an International Leadership Conference in Atlanta. Moreover, the College has several MOUs under negotiation, including one involving a global exchange program.
Additionally, Dr. Dawkins has reinvigorated Bennett’s relationship with several church denominations. She collaborated with the Pulpit’s Forum of Greensboro to raise money for the College. In January, she delivered the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. keynote address at First Baptist Church in Reidsville, North Carolina, before members of the Ministerial Alliance of Reidsville and Vicinity, and in late May she delivered a Women’s Day address at Shiloh Baptist Church in Greensboro. Dr. Dawkins has also strengthened the College’s relationship with its founding denomination, The United Methodist Church, by hosting the Black Methodists for Church Renewal’s annual Roll Call in April and attending a retreat of the United Methodist Church’s Western North Carolina Conference at Lake Junaluska.
During her time in the Triad, Dr. Dawkins has been visible throughout Greensboro and the state speaking to various groups and networking on behalf of Bennett. She has also organized several events designed to increase Bennett’s local visibility while bringing resources to the campus. Among groups with whom she has networked or is affiliated are The Greensboro Men’s Club, The Triad Ministerial Alliance, The Greensboro Partnership, Opportunity Greensboro and The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. She served on the transition team for Guilford County Schools’ new superintendent and also serves on several regional and national boards.
Dr. Dawkins has actively engaged with the Institution’s alumnae, attending numerous chapter events and sponsoring Alumnae Donor Retreats. Under her leadership, alumnae giving and the overall percentage of alumnae gifts are up. In May during commencement weekend, a $1.5 million scholarship campaign in honor of Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole was announced, Bennett officials have begun talks with Guildford County Schools about opening a school for foster care children on campus and in July Dr. Dawkins participated in a recruitment event with Church of God in Christ leaders in Charlotte.
Prior to her arrival at Bennett, Dr. Dawkins served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cheyney University, where she also served as Acting President. Under her leadership, Cheyney’s academic policies and practices were revised, their Financial Aid and Admissions offices were overhauled and new/updated articulation agreements were signed with University of the Sciences of Philadelphia, LaSalle University and the Community College of Philadelphia. Dr. Dawkins also reinvigorated Cheyney’s International Program, established the Ad Hoc Advisory committees on Retention and Admission Criteria and promoted a culture of assessment, continuous improvement and data-based decision making.
Prior to her arrival at Cheyney University, Dr. Dawkins served as Provost, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor, Associate Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Academic Technology at Dillard University in New Orleans. Prior to that, she worked at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) for 28 years, serving as the Chief Academic/Administrative Officer/ Dean of the College of Professional Studies, former Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chair and Professor of Physical Education.
Dr. Dawkins assumed critical responsibilities at all four institutions to ensure successful reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for JCSU and Dillard and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) for Cheyney. She also served as the Accreditation Liaison Officer at all four institutions and made numerous presentations at SACSCOC’s annual conferences on topics including faculty development, learning communities and institutional effectiveness.
Having worked extensively with faculty development throughout her career, Dr. Dawkins developed national and international perspectives on the contributory roles of faculty and universities in the expanding global society. Her leadership positions include Past President of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network, a network of faculty developers, former President and Co-Founding Member of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Faculty Development Network, Board Member of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL) Association and the Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS) and Resource Faculty for the Washington Center’s National Summer Institute on Learning Communities. She has served on numerous advisory boards, including AAC&U’s Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future (PCFF) project in the sciences, the Brown-Columbia Universities Inter-Ivy League pilot Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) and the International Council for Educational Developers (ICED) in 2011-2012 in Belgium.
Dr. Dawkins has been involved in strategic planning at the cabinet, collegiate and department levels for more than 26 years, with an emphasis on academic program improvement and development, instructional technology, faculty development, design and implementation of institutional and program assessment systems, policy revision and development, managing enrollment and improving retention and fiscal development through grant writing and oversight of grant management. She has proposed and received grants at JCSU, Dillard and Bennett from private and federal sources totaling more than 28 million dollars.
Dr. Dawkins’ leadership roles have resulted in many noted accomplishments, including assistance in co-writing Andrew Mellon Foundation Grants for projects to coordinate faculty efforts at Dillard in offering Faculty Development Programs and establishing articulation agreements for a Faculty-Led Global Seminar around the theme of the Trans-Atlantic Slave-Trade; support in the writing and attainment of the ACE (American Council on Education) internationalization project to expand students’ global outlook by internationalizing the curriculum; collaboration with faculty and administrators in obtaining an NIH grant on health disparities; and receipt of the prestigious Theodore M. Hesburgh Certificate of Excellence in 1994 by the JCSU Faculty Development program, which she directed. Dr. Dawkins has consulted, presented, received grants and published work primarily in faculty development, instructional technology, learning across the curriculum, learning communities, SoTL (The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning), accreditation and program development.
Dr. Dawkins was recognized as an Outstanding JCSU Alumni Woman in 2016, and received the Bob Pierleoni Spirit of POD Award in appreciation of dedicated service and enduring service to the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education in November 2015. She received the Education & Community Service Award by Distinguished Partners on October 11, 2014, was recognized as one of the African American Leaders in Philadelphia by The Philadelphia Tribune in 2014, won the Service Award from the HBCU Faculty Development Network in October 2009 and again in 2011, was recognized as one of the 22 Most Important Leaders in Higher Education by The Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning in 2007, and received the E.B. Henderson Award in Physical Education by the Ethnic Minority Council of AAHPERD in April 2006.
Dr. Dawkins received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, her Master of Arts from The University of Michigan and her Bachelor of Science from Johnson C. Smith University. She is married to Bobby G. Dawkins, Ph.D., who is a retired Senior Polymer and Fiber Associate in Research and Development from PBI Performance Products, Inc. They have two adult daughters: Malia Dawkins Jennings (Derek), M.A., who is an Actress, a Writer/Producer and an Account Manager for NCompass International, and Demi Dawkins, M.D., who is in a Neurosurgery Residency at the University of Wisconsin.
Office of the President, Global Learning Center
Phone: 336-517-2225 and 336-517-2226