CHEYNEY, PA — Even though COVID-19 restrictions prohibited students, staff, alumni, and distinguished guests from gathering in person for the annual Founder’s Day event, Cheyney University still brought everyone together virtually in celebratory fashion to mark the university’s 184th anniversary. The event honored former members of the Cheyney community and included musical performances by the world-renowned The String Queens and professional singer and platinum-selling songwriter Lauren Evans.
Under the theme, “Audacity to Succeed,” Cheyney recognized its resurgence under the leadership of President Aaron A. Walton through recorded videos of various speakers, including Kevin Guile, President of the Cheyney University National Alumni Association, who delivered a powerful message to the audience.
“In the years past, when our backs were up against the wall and most tried to count us out, the University’s current administration, faculty and staff, students, Council of Trustees, Cheyney Foundation, and the Cheyney Alumni Association had the audacity to create a Resurgence that catapulted Cheyney University on the path of one of the greatest comeback stories in recent memory,” said Guile. “We have the audacity to succeed. We have the audacity to be bold. But we also have the audacity to be First!”
The event commenced by a “silencing the mic” tribute to alumnus Tony Lee, who passed away last month due to complications related to COVID-19. He was the Founder’s Day Master of Ceremonies for the last two years. This year, a few students were selected to fill his role by defining what the event’s theme meant to them and their future. Abson Francois, a double major in Biology and Business Administration said, “I have the audacity to become a nephrologist and have my own practice.”
“In this Cheyney environment, our students, faculty and staff escape the microaggressive behaviors that have become so commonplace in our society,” said Kizzy Morris, Provost and Chief Academic Officer. “We serve the medicine of microaffirmation at Cheyney, where individual talents are developed, nurtured and promoted.”
A tribute was also made to former Men’s Basketball Coach John Chaney who coached at Cheyney for 10 years and led the Wolves to victory in the 1978 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, marking the only team from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to win the top title. Chaney passed away last month after a Hall of Fame career. Former players and former colleague, C. Vivian Stringer, who coached Cheyney’s Women’s Basketball team, honored Coach Chaney through video recordings.
According to Stringer, Chaney used to say, “You don’t raise the ceiling without raising the floor.”
“He was always sincere about his players, his passion and the importance of getting an education,” said Stringer. “Cheyney University gave us the opportunity to rise above where we came from and the university will always stick by you. There is a lot of love and respect and once you become part of Cheyney, you are always a member of the Cheyney Family.”
In addition, President Walton presented Cheyney’s Institution Partnership Award to The Wistar Institute. In July 2020, Cheyney University and The Wistar Institute announced a strategic collaboration between the nation’s first HBCU and the nation’s first biomedical research institute. Through this alliance, beginning this semester, Cheyney students are participating in Wistar’s biomedical research and training curriculum.
“Students are gaining hands-on experience through laboratory courses and internships that can progress into Wistar’s credentialed apprenticeship program,” said President Walton. “As a new member of the Philadelphia Research Consortium, Cheyney University and our on-campus life-sciences companies will be able to leverage the research and business communities coalesced around the Consortium.”
President Walton also presented the Outstanding Service Award to the Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. During the fall semester, The Links partnered with Cheyney’s Student Affairs Department to organize a student voter registration drive resulting in over 100 new voters being registered on campus in time for the November 2020 election. Additionally, the organization partnered with the University to spearhead a coat drive and supported the campus food pantry.
Click here to watch the Founder’s Day celebration.
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