Michigan Re-establishes First Historically Black College

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills Wednesday to facilitate the reopening of the Lewis College of Business as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit as Michigan’s first and only Historically Black College and University.
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The original Lewis College of Business, which was re-established as Michigan's first Historically Black College and is planned to open as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit's College of Creative Studies in 2022. // Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The original Lewis College of Business, which was re-established as Michigan’s first Historically Black College, and is planned to open as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit’s College of Creative Studies in 2022. // Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills Wednesday to facilitate the reopening of the Lewis College of Business as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit as Michigan’s first and only Historically Black College and University.

“Thank you to Governor Whitmer and all of our partners for helping the grandchildren of Violet T. Lewis, Pensole, and College for Creative Studies establish an HBCU in the state of Michigan,” says D’Wayne Edwards, founder of the Pensole Design Academy in Oregon and future president of the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design.

“Our goal is to celebrate Violet T. Lewis’ life’s work she established in the city of Detroit in 1939,” Edwards says. “Today moves us forward to another major step in continuing her legacy with the support of our supporting partners College for Creative Studies, Target, and The Gilbert Family Foundation.”

The Lewis College of Business operated in Detroit from 1939 until 2013. The college originally received its HBCU designation in 1987, and the reopening school is requesting HBCU recognition from the state.

Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design is expected to open in 2022 on the campus of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design will be supported with philanthropic contributions from Target and the Gilbert Family Foundation.

“Michigan’s creative talent has long been an important part of its economic success,” says Don Tuski, president of CCS. “This is underscored by the fact that the state boasts the highest concentration of commercial and industrial designers in the country and that Detroit is the only U.S. city recognized as a UNESCO City of Design.”

“I want to thank Governor Whitmer for taking action to support this pipeline of underserved talent alongside the countless partners who have stood up to make this a reality. We can create generations of equitable access to the skills that will lead to good-paying jobs and create products and services that can define the future.”

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