Welcome to The Higher Edge Podcast!
Feb. 7, 2023

Expectations of Excellence: Educating Tomorrow’s Culturally-Savvy Leaders (featuring Rochelle Ford)

HBCUs were birthed out of necessity during America’s segregation period, giving black students a place of belonging in higher education. Today, they continue that mission while leading the charge in educating and promoting diverse, global-minded talent...

HBCUs were birthed out of necessity during America’s segregation period, giving black students a place of belonging in higher education. Today, they continue that mission while leading the charge in educating and promoting diverse, global-minded talent.

For instance, Rochelle L. Ford, Ph.D., APR, President of Dillard University, and her colleagues are sharing real life experiences through the reestablished National Center for Black-Jewish Relations.

Rochelle gives her passionate insight into how HBCUs are advancing our country — and the world — by actively bringing communities together in a polarizing climate.

Join us as we discuss:

  • How HBCUs provide a place of belonging for black students (11:30)
  • Microaggressions and misguided expectations (20:40)
  • Articulation agreements and promoting global-minded talent (31:55)

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website or search for The Higher Edge in your favorite podcast player.


[00:00:00] Announcer: Welcome to The Higher edge, a podcast for the brightest minds in higher education. Hear from the change makers and rulebreakers that are driving meaningful, impactful change for colleges and universities across the country from improving operat. To supporting student success. These are the stories that give you, “The Higher Edge”.

[00:00:30] And now your host, Brendan Aldrich

[00:00:33] Brendan Aldrich: Hey everybody, and welcome to The Higher Edge. I'm Brendan Aldrich and I'm here today with Rochelle Ford, who last year was named president of Dillard University in New Orleans. Now, Dillard University is a private, historically black university that was founded in 1930, but incorporated predecessor institutions, straight university and the New Orleans University, which were both founded in [00:01:00] 1869, following the end of the Civil War to help educate newly freed African Americans.

[00:01:06] As such, Dillard is Louisiana's first and oldest, H B C U, or historically black college and university. . Now on that subject, today, there are 107 institutions across the United States that are identified by the Department of Education as HBCUs. These institutions, which make up 3% of the colleges and universities in this country produce almost 20% of all African American graduates.

[00:01:33] Dillard University has also received a number of distinctions, including having. Number one best Small Business Management degree program in Louisiana is the number three producer of physics, bachelor's degrees, awarded to African Americans, and even ranked number five in the New York Times Mobility Index.

[00:01:53] You know when you can count Pulitzer Prize winners, state Department court justices, and more among your graduates, you are an institution [00:02:00] that is making a real difference where it matters. Rochelle, thanks for joining us and welcome to The Higher Edge. 

[00:02:06] Dr. Rochelle Ford: Thank you so much for having me. Haven't only been on the job since July of 2022.

[00:02:12] It feels extra special to be here with you today, 

[00:02:16] Brendan Aldrich: and congratulations for being named President just this last year. I have to imagine it's been a whirlwind just meeting everybody and getting settled into your new. 

[00:02:25] Dr. Rochelle Ford: Oh, it has been. But being right here in New Orleans a very warm and embracing business and local community to be a part of 

[00:02:35] Brendan Aldrich: Rochelle, I know that everyone's career is unique, which makes it all the more fascinating to hear individuals stories.

[00:02:43] I'm hoping you might start us off by sharing a bit of your own career. What was your path to becoming just the eighth President Dillard University has ever? . 

[00:02:52] Dr. Rochelle Ford: Not only am I the eighth president, but I'm also the second woman, so I love saying that as well. But before I became president, [00:03:00] most immediately, I was the dean of the school of Communications at Elon University and held that role for four years.

[00:03:07] Prior to that, I was at Syracuse University and was the chair of one of the university's largest departments, the public relations department in the SI new. School of public communications. And while serving in that chair role and teaching, I also became a provost faculty fellow, and in that role was responsible for the re-accreditation for the entire university and helping to advance undergraduate experiences, particularly within diversity, equity, inclusion, and first year experie.

[00:03:42] Before going up to the snowing north, I was in Washington DC where I spent 16 years at my alma mater, Howard University, starting off as an assistant professor and working my way up to full professor and an associate dean for [00:04:00] research and academic affairs. And I also was able to work. The president, um, Wayne Frederick, who's an amazing scholar in physician and academic leader in helping him to establish the Center for Academic Excellence.

[00:04:16] and as you see, I'm kind of non-traditional in the fact that I am, um, a journalist slash public relations professional. All three of my degrees are in journalism with a concentration in public relations. I, I love building relationships between people and, and organizations and helping them to succeed and trying to help the organization not fail because those people might help us out or they might hurt us.

[00:04:43] But it's been a fun journey and at so many very different universities, and then now back to an H B C U at a liberal arts undergraduate school that's about to start nursing at the master's degree level. So I'm excited about that [00:05:00] 

[00:05:00] Brendan Aldrich: and really so relevant, uh, especially given the, well, really unfortunately, polarized world that we live in.

[00:05:08] Dr. Rochelle Ford: We do live in a very polarized world, and it's one of those things that sometimes keeps me up at night because I wish that our society would get back to some basics of listening to each other, trying to understand each other. We lean too much into sound bites and try to take complex issues and boil it down to a 32nd or less TikTok and it doesn't work well.

[00:05:35] And I think. We get led into rabbit holes, which reinforces our ideas, but doesn't open us up to conversations. One of the reasons why Dillard yesterday literally announced, we announced the reestablishment of the National Center for Black Jewish [00:06:00] Relations, and we relaunched this program. , um, this national center, because of the polarization in America, the level of antisemitism that exists, the level of racism that exists in our society, we need to put an end to that.

[00:06:16] And instead of our two communities starting to question each other, we need to remember how close the communities were and how we work side by side in the Civil Rights movement to affect change here in America. And. Both of our people groups, our ancestors had to deal with slavery, had to deal with genocide.

[00:06:40] Those are very real things, and we actually have more in common than we have what separates us? So we decided that it was the perfect time to reestablish this National Center for Black and Jewish Relations, and it was established by the fourth president of Dillard [00:07:00] University. , Samuel Dubois Cook, and he was a classmate of Dr.

[00:07:06] Martin Luther King. And when he went to the Ohio State University, he had a professor who was Jewish and he said, well, you know, I'm a minority too. And he's like, what? What are you talking about? You're white. And he is like, no, I'm Jewish. And then they began to talk about the shared living experiences, the key word.

[00:07:25] They talked. They listen to each other and they learn from each other, and they dug deeper into each other's heritage and understanding and finding the commonality. We need to do more of that in America, and colleges and universities need to be part of that solution, and we have to make sure that we stray away from triggering thoughts that lead us into hate and.

[00:07:56] And what triggered you to lean into [00:08:00] conversations that will heal our nation versus tear us apart, 

[00:08:05] Brendan Aldrich: which is especially important, I imagine as a, uh, college president, you represent all of your students regardless of their race or their religion. We 

[00:08:12] Dr. Rochelle Ford: 100% represent all of our students and we have a very diverse population.

[00:08:17] And there's some tough issues that are coming down the. For college presidents and all of, um, society to really, to wrestle with. As you know, Supreme Court had the Dobbs decision, which left it up to the states on how they wanted to handle the issue of abortion and our state, um, where I am in Louisiana, it had a trigger law that, um, outlawed.

[00:08:44] Cases of, of abortion. And that really created a, a polarizing issue here in our, our state. How would I support my [00:09:00] students? And it's one of those things where people wanted me to say, I'm anti-abortion. I'm pro-life, or you know, I'm pro-abortion and everyone should. , I would not get drawn into either size of that argument.

[00:09:16] Instead, every interview that I've done, I said I care about the full whole health of my students, their mental, their physical, their spiritual health. And it's my job to support them no matter what decisions they make for their lives. And that's how I try to. being true to my university and handling polarizing issues.

[00:09:47] How do I lean into Dillard's philosophy of cultivating leaders who live ethically, who think and communicate precisely and who act courageously to make the world a better [00:10:00] place? 

[00:10:01] Brendan Aldrich: Hey, for everyone listening, hang tight. We're gonna take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and we'll be back in just one minute.

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[00:11:11] Brendan Aldrich: Thanks so much for listening to our sponsor. Let's get back to the show. . You know, I mentioned during the introduction that it's a metric that a lot of people might not know, but even though HBCUs represent about 3% of the nation's colleges and universities, they graduate nearly 20% of all African American graduates.

[00:11:29] I wonder if you just might take a minute to talk about the role of historically black colleges and universities in higher education. 

[00:11:37] Dr. Rochelle Ford: HBCUs have played a major role in establishing the black middle class in. and even though we didn't have choice until desegregation, we, if we were going to college, we would have to go to a historically black college because those were the only ones primarily who were accepting us.

[00:11:58] A few exceptions in the [00:12:00] north, but for the most part across the nation, we were not accepted when desegregation happened. We had. , but predominantly white institutions didn't necessarily know how to embrace and have a inclusive culture where we would feel a sense of belonging. And today we're still struggling with that diversity, equity, and inclusion, uh, particularly at predominantly white institutions or what we would call PWIs.

[00:12:41] HBCUs bring to modern society, particularly for African Americans and other black identifying individuals is a place of belonging. Too often as a black person in America, when you walk [00:13:00] into a room, they only see your blackness. And along with that comes along stereotypes and expect. Ones often negative ones, ones such as you are an exception because you're smart, because the expectation is that you're not.

[00:13:23] You are articulate. You are an exception because the expectation is that you will be inarticulate. But when you walk into an H B C U, , and you're an African American or black identifying student in particular, the expectation is that you are excellent. The expectation is you are a leader. The expectation is that you're smart.

[00:13:49] The expectation is that you're very articulate and we are going to help you to continue to grow because the expectation is leadership. [00:14:00] And it's one of those first times where you are no longer a minority in your life, and you can focus on becoming a journalist or a data scientist, or a biologist or a dancer, and it's not about your race, but you're able to fully interrogate the past and understand your people and understand the rest of America and the rest of the world through your.

[00:14:28] but able to tackle issues that are important to people who are similar to you and to create strategies for the future. And there's very few times in life, particularly in America, where blacks can relinquish their minority self and feel part of a majority. . It's interesting, when I was on a panel for Ace the other day, we had a [00:15:00] panel about religious universities and someone from Brigham Young University was on the panel and he stated that when he as a Mormon was growing, people didn't understand the church of Latter Day Saints.

[00:15:17] They thought maybe it was a cult. Who are they? What did they do? He was the weird one, right? When he attended Brigham Young University. It was the same sort of experience that I and many other African Americans who attended HBCUs felt he was normal. He belonged. He was not on the. There were people like him.

[00:15:40] So no longer did his Mormon identity become the thing that people talked about. He was focusing on becoming, you know, a scholar, not having to defend what is the church of Latter Day Saints and why is it [00:16:00] not? . 

[00:16:01] Brendan Aldrich: What a great, great analogy. Well, and it, you know, it's true. There is so much differentiation amongst the various parts of any community.

[00:16:09] I know I'm not the first to mention this with the release of Marvel's Black Panther, the latest movie, Wakanda Forever. But there have been a number of articles published that follow a similar theme describing HBCUs is kind of like a modern day, Wakanda, that place where you have all these different cultures coming.

[00:16:26] Dr. Rochelle Ford: absolutely. I love the movie, although the Wakanda forever really made me cry. But the power of being in a society of excellence with people who look like you and wanting to protect that and honor that culture is critical. And I think that culture is immensely critical to, to all of us and to value that.

[00:16:52] And when. are on an H B C U campus, a historically black campus. You're [00:17:00] going to see diversity of people. Black people are not monolithic. You will meet African Americans from the west coast. We recruit heavily from California. We have students who are from Texas. We have students who are from Chicago and Memphis, students from New Orleans and Atlanta.

[00:17:21] And guess. . Their regionality differences are immense. Trying to understand their food, their language, everything is different. Although their commonality is that they're black identifying students. And so there's power in diversity, even though it's a historically black university. 

[00:17:49] Brendan Aldrich: and it's just as important for students to learn how to navigate other cultures.

[00:17:53] It's not about being immersed by or homogenized by another culture, but really just knowing how those cultures operate. [00:18:00] 

[00:18:01] Dr. Rochelle Ford: Absolutely. It's really important that all of us learn how to move back and forth between cultures and being aware of our own and our own identity. I grew up in a predominantly, community.

[00:18:20] And I actually, I remember when I knew that race sometimes mattered , but, and this wasn't a story that I, oh, but I think it's relevant. I remember when I kind of realized that that race mattered growing up when people started dating and everyone thought that I oughta be with Marlon Gammon. Why? Because Marlon Gammon was black and guess.

[00:18:47] I was black. I never quite understood that, but people felt like we ought to be together. A similar thing happened when my best friend Lisa Smith, who grew up next door to [00:19:00] me, and Lisa knows, I tell this story all the time so you don't have to worry about me offending Lisa, blonde hair, blue eyed, amazing.

[00:19:10] Second generation, Phi Mu, Ohio University. when she graduates from college, she moves to Washington DC where I was a student at Howard. Lisa came to my surprise birthday party. She got there before I did. There was another white person there who was Ed Georgetown Law. Good looking guy. Guess what? Everyone assumed that Lisa and this gentleman were together.

[00:19:42] Why? because he was white and she was white. I tell that story for a couple of reasons because we make assumptions about each other and we have to break down those things and, and understand the diversity that exists within people. And all white people [00:20:00] don't know each other, and all black people don't know each other, nor do they want to mate and become couples.

[00:20:04] Right. But also it was a point. , my friends had to check themselves in the same way that I wish my classmates would have when I was a kid. To break down those stereotypes, to look beyond what we see and get to know people, and I think that that is an important lesson to learn. So I share that story, you know, because it's, it is important for us to get outside of our comfort zones and to learn about other people.

[00:20:37] And allow ourselves to grow in that way. 

[00:20:40] Brendan Aldrich: You know, it's interesting when you talk about, uh, the assumptions that we all make. You know, there's a, a term that was coined by, uh, Harvard University Professor Charles Pierce, back in the 1970s microaggressions. Now, the intent was to describe subtle, everyday ways that black people experience discrimination.

[00:20:57] Not, not the big obvious ways that people tend to [00:21:00] think about, but the small ones that are sometimes really easy to miss, and how that's. An exclusively black situation, 

[00:21:08] Dr. Rochelle Ford: right? Microaggressions aren't just affecting African-American individuals. Microaggressions are those little insults or statements that it's almost like getting a mosquito bite over and over and over and over again, and it really begins to hurt.

[00:21:28] It doesn't just itch, but it becomes painful. That's what a microaggression oftentimes feels. . And one of the things a lot of people don't know, but I I, I share the story a lot. When you think about a microaggression, it's like when you're teased as a kid, if you wear glasses, people call you four eyes. Well, if they keep calling you four eyes for so long, either you're gonna take off your glasses, throw some contacts in, and you're gonna change yourself.

[00:21:57] Or if you can't. [00:22:00] Contacts and you can't afford not to see, you're gonna end up in a fight because you're tired of that. Right? Well, imagine if you can never undo that piece of identity that people are teasing you about and they keep sticking you with those little pinpoints of You're pretty poor black girl.

[00:22:20] That hurts. You're so articulate. Because the expectation is I'm not, people say that to me with a PhD, believe it or not, in communication. Those are microaggressions and they hurt, and we have to begin to, to fight a a against that and help for people to begin to say hey and know how to handle it. Hey, I don't know if I heard you right when I heard you say this.

[00:22:49] Can you tell me what you meant by that statement? Offer them some grace. Give them opportunity to stop and reflect and then you have the opportunity to. . I was [00:23:00] hurt by what you said because it sounds like the expectation is all black people are ugly, therefore, I'm an exception because I'm pretty, and that hurts, and that's probably not what you meant, but that's oftentimes what it feels like, whether it was your intent or not.

[00:23:21] And a lot of people have difficulty having those kind of conversations, but it happens in higher ed. it. Like I said, when I go and speak, uh, as a, as a professor, and even as a president actually has happened to be as a president, someone said, you were so articulate and I didn't know how to receive that.

[00:23:41] I'm the college president with the degree in communications, so we have to be careful with our words, but I also have to extend grace and, and to say, that's interesting. Choice of words. Did, did I say something that really resonated with you and give them an opportunity. to lean in and, and to share [00:24:00] that.

[00:24:00] But I think it's one of those, it's one of those key things and, and lessons in in life, is learning how to be your whole self all the time and to feel comfortable enough to bring your whole self into a work or a life situ. , and that's part of what, um, the ideal of inclusivity is. I can bring my whole self to work or to this situation, diversity is that there's gonna be a lot of different people who are sitting at that table.

[00:24:37] Equity is recognizing that not everybody gets an invitation to be at the table. Not everyone knows the customs to have a seat at that table, and therefore we have to intentionally invite. Equity would say that we're going to let people know this is how most people dress, act, be in this environment. If you're not comfortable, that's fine.

[00:24:59] I'm gonna [00:25:00] introduce you, bring you into the conversation. But inclusion is, I can feel like I can sit at that table and be my whole self. 

[00:25:08] Brendan Aldrich: Which gets back to what you were saying about the importance of, of not buying into the sound bites of, of really having those deeper questions, uh, conversations and those harder conversations, which I think makes a great bridge for us to talk about the future of HBCUs and Dillard University in particular.

[00:25:25] Uh, I'd love for you to share some of your thoughts about the evolution of institutions like Dillard. 

[00:25:30] Dr. Rochelle Ford: There's really a great opportunity. in America and really globally for people to embrace the history and the culture of historically black universities. Oftentimes, when we have conversations about where students should go, should HBCUs exist, the assumption is that we're, we're [00:26:00] expecting black people.

[00:26:02] Asian Hispanic people to be assumed into white establishments, which is our state system schools, some of the larger, more known private schools, but they historically have been predominantly white institutions. And the expectations that those institutions will accommodate, they will adjust and be more inclusive of those individual.

[00:26:27] of who are different than the traditional white middle class student, and we need to then train people to become culturally competent at those schools so that they can go and help serve society, which I think is important. Oftentimes also, we talk about people coming to HBCUs to recruit, which 100% they.

[00:26:56] Because HBCUs are producing a product that [00:27:00] businesses and governments, and nonprofits say that they want, they have pledged, particularly after 2020, they made major announcements and pledges to diversify their workforce. And I agree. If you want to, uh, recruit and diversify your workforce, you should go where there are predominant.

[00:27:25] people of color, African Americans come to an H B C U, go to an Hispanic-serving university if you want to recruit more, um, Hispanic students. And I think that that is a beautiful thing. But when we're talking about diversity and obtaining those cultural competencies, very few people are saying, Hey, let's create articulation agreements so that my white student.

[00:27:54] Can come and study at an H B C U and learn [00:28:00] authentically from an African-American community where they can still learn biology and what have you, because that's the same no matter where you go to school, but you can immerse yourself in a different culture. Very much so. In the same way that we have study abroad programs where we take our students and they go study in.

[00:28:22] And they learn about the Italian culture because it's much better to do it there than reading about it in a textbook. So instead of just learning about African-American studies in an African-American studies department at a predominantly white institution, why not come and spend a semester immersed at a school like Dillard University in a very gumbo like city of New Orleans

[00:28:50] Which has great food, but I think it's a real opportunity, um, where we can provide a service, [00:29:00] an education that you can't get elsewhere, and to help students who are non-black to understand what it's like to be minoritized in. the same way. Uh, a husband who walks into a baby shower all of a sudden knows that he's a man because he's all of a sudden around a whole bunch of women, you know?

[00:29:21] Right. Uh, they feel very man, but then they know how to na They learn how to navigate those spaces or run away one or the other. . But the reality is, is that there's opportunities for that to happen at a historically black school. So I want folks to not only to learn about us that we exist and that you can come and.

[00:29:42] Amazing talent at our schools, but look at authentic partnerships where we can learn about each other through each other. But I also think that it's a really important point, is that if you look at how historically black colleges and [00:30:00] universities have been funded and in comparison to our counterparts who are predominantly white, um, whether they're private schools or public, There are numerous examples and even lawsuits.

[00:30:14] The state of Maryland, HBC used just one against the state of Maryland because they were underfunded, and we have studies that show that if you combine all of the endowments, all of the endowments of 107 schools, it will not equal. An endowment of the lowest Ivy League school, and it actually won't even equal the amount of some of these boarding schools that exist for high school kids.

[00:30:47] That's something to, to, to think about because we've been underfunded. But if you look at making an investment in the institution's like Dillard who've created the black [00:31:00] middle, Who've disproportionately have created the attorneys and the, the doctors and the dentists and the other business professionals.

[00:31:13] It's been H B C U. So if people like McKenzie Scott has done said, you know what? I believe in this. I'm taking my dollars and I'm gonna make a strategic transformative investment doing it in schools like Dill. you will get a return on the investment for America and the global community. So I think that we can 100% lean into investing into our schools and partnering with our schools, meaning our schools.

[00:31:46] I'm saying HBCUs. So that we really can advance 

[00:31:51] Brendan Aldrich: America as somebody that grew up in Southern California, there are some very foundational now articulation agreements between HBCUs and the [00:32:00] California state schools. 

[00:32:01] Dr. Rochelle Ford: And they are real partnerships. We actually recruit a lot of our students from the community college system in California.

[00:32:10] And why did the state do that? Because outside of one medical school, there are no other predominantly black institutions there. And so coming and allowing their students to transfer from the two year programs into a four year historically black college like. gives the students the best of both worlds, able to get started in a very inexpensive way at a community college.

[00:32:37] And then to be able to take those savings and then to get the black experience at historically Black College is, is an awesome experience and I'm excited about Dillard doing that for schools and students in California. But I'm also excited about how Dillard has really built international partner. As [00:33:00] well.

[00:33:00] When you look at our tennis team, you're gonna see students from Brazil. You'll see students from Ukraine, from Spain, from Mexico, and they're coming to America. They're coming to Dillard to have an amazing education, and HBCUs have been doing that for a very long time. If you look at the student populations, Howard University Law School.

[00:33:28] You look at the student population at North Carolina Central Law School, you look at the populations at Southern University Law School, you'll actually seek Caucasian students who are seeking their graduate degrees there because why? They're excellent law schools and in fact, in in Washington DC you will see many, um, women who are older.

[00:33:51] who couldn't go to graduate school, anyplace else other than Howard. Mm-hmm. . Why? Because we were an inclusive place and we, we were [00:34:00] co-ed, graduate degree offering institution. And so I think that there's real opportunity for all different types of people from all different walks of life. , whether they're from California or they're from overseas, or they're from our backyard.

[00:34:16] To take a look at schools like Dillard, one of the things that we wanna make sure is that our students at Dillard are getting a well-rounded global experience, and we now have a partnership with a university in Japan, um, with s i t. It's an engineering. and they want their students to learn English, and we want our students to have additional engineering and global experiences.

[00:34:44] So guess what we're doing? Their Japanese students are coming to Dillard and they're studying English, and our physics students are going and studying engineering in Japan. And so we're able to meet the needs [00:35:00] of both populations and guess what? It's gonna result. global minded students who are amazing to recruit.

[00:35:09] A lot of US companies, when they wanna open up a a, a, a Japanese, you know, office or a Chinese office, they don't go and recruit talent from England, . They will open up a Chinese office by recruiting Chinese. Professionals to open up a Chinese office or they'll hire Japanese nationals to open up the Japanese office.

[00:35:36] That's the same thing that I hope businesses and governments will do. When they want to hire diverse workforce and they want to get to understand multiculturalism, they'll come to Dillard because we have globally minded students who were, have been taught how to be. To be ethical and their living and to be amazingly precise with their [00:36:00] thinking and communication and who are willing to to act courageously.

[00:36:06] Brendan Aldrich: Just incredible, incredible vision, and I love your thoughts on, on the corporate involvement aspect of really saying this is the future of your workforce. Rochelle, we call, uh, this show the Higher Edge because we do want people to really hear and better understand everyone that's working in and supporting education.

[00:36:23] I'm, I'm hoping that from your own experience, you might have, uh, a story or a piece of advice for our listeners, uh, that might help give them the higher edge. 

[00:36:33] Dr. Rochelle Ford: I think one of the key things that I've learned and has helped me to gain a higher edge is being true to myself and knowing who I am and not letting anyone else to.

[00:36:52] define you. I remember distinctly a time in graduate school and I was searching for a graduate advisor, and [00:37:00] I loved this one professor. I thought that he was amazing and I really wanted him to direct my dissertation, and I wrote up all these different proposals and he and I had exchanged book ideas and had some great discussions after class.

[00:37:17] So I knew that this was the. and he took my work. He looked it over and he said, you know, maybe you're not as smart as I thought you were. Wow. Maybe you've gotten by by your personality. Now, my daddy said, never let him see you cry. Daddy said that if you drink a glass of water, You either go to choke and die, but you won't cry and drink that water at the same time.

[00:37:47] So I didn't cry. I probably had a bottle of water. So I took a sip and I said, I'm sorry you think that way. I disagree. I think that I'm gonna be an amazing scholar even if [00:38:00] we don't work together. And I walked out that room. Then of course I went to the bathroom and I said, what? And I cried. But , I also knew that God hadn't brought me that far to leave.

[00:38:13] and that I was smart and that I was capable, and that I have a great personality and somebody else will work with me. And guess what? The director of the school took me under his belt and worked with me. And now I not only have a doctorate, not only am I now an expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion, but I'm the p.

[00:38:39] of a university that is here to cultivate leaders. So I wouldn't let that negativity define me. I remembered who I was and I haven't stopped smiling and hopefully being a nice person, but I also do the hard work to make sure that I know [00:39:00] what I know and that I'm excellent and I'm going to continue to be authentic and true to.

[00:39:07] And not let others define me 

[00:39:10] Brendan Aldrich: Fantastic advice and, and something that that can sometimes take way too long for each of us to learn. So thank you for sharing that. Hey, for our listeners, we've been talking to the amazing Rochelle Ford, president of Dillard University, Rochelle. If listeners would like to reach out to you with, uh, any questions about today's episode or to continue the conversation, what's the best way for them to reach you?

[00:39:34] Dr. Rochelle Ford: Of course, they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Rochelle Ford. I'm right there on LinkedIn, and you can also email me at President dillard dot ed. 

[00:39:46] Brendan Aldrich: Perfect. Rochelle, such a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you again for coming on and being a guest with us on The Higher Edge. And for everyone listening, I'm Brendan Aldrich and we'll talk soon.

[00:39:56] Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Higher Edge. For more, [00:40:00] subscribe to us on your favorite podcast platform. Leave us a review if you loved the show, and be sure to connect with Brendan on Lincoln. Know someone who's making big changes at their higher ed institution that belongs on this podcast. Drop us a line at podcasts@thehigheredge.com.

[00:40:18] The Higher Edge is sponsored by Invoke Learning in partnership with Westport Studios. View and opinions expressed by individuals during the podcast are their own. See how Invoke Learning is empowering higher education@invokelearning.com.