Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Front Page news

Dr. Yolanda W. Page is invested as Stillman College’s eighth president

by Shani E. McIlwain | Presbyterian News Service

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The week-long festivities celebrating the investiture of Stillman College’s eighth president, Dr. Yolanda W. Page, were capped off Friday with a ceremonial event that felt more like a church service.

The Rev. Shanea D. Leonard, director of Racial Equity and Woman’s Intercultural Ministries in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, offered a stirring Call of the Assembly, reminding guests of the assurance in the Book of Ecclesiastes “that to everything there is a season, a time and purpose under the sun. A time to stand on soil that once held chains, chatting and crying out. Yet now possess honor, hope and the highest form of humanity. And in this season and for this purpose we have been gathered here for a glorious reason.”

Page has been a lifelong learner and lover of education. As a child, she would memorize the Encyclopedia Britannica, create her own tests — and then take them.

This love of learning carried her through the Upward Bound program, which serves high school students from low-income families and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.  As a first-generation college student, Page says, “So, in many ways I share the same profile as the Stillman student, which allows me to relate to them and have insight into their needs.”

The theme of the Friday morning ceremony was to continue to support Page and her vision beyond this day and to invest in the personal relationships that are cultivated when people partner in mission with each other. In less than a year since becoming Stillman’s president, Page is already producing impact, including partnering with the Alabama Department of Labor and WBRC-TV, Tuscaloosa’s Fox affiliate, to host the “Putting Alabama to Work Job Fair,” the first job fair in West Tuscaloosa.

There was also a joint partnership with Visit Tuscaloosa to host the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Basketball Tournament, which provided significant economic impact to Stillman College and to Tuscaloosa. Other first-year accomplishments include signing an agreement with a grades 6-12 charter school to nest on the campus and securing a $1 million grant to create a cyber security clinic that offers services to minority-owned businesses in the Tuscaloosa and surrounding area. In November, Stillman College received a $7.9 million grant to build a biomedical research center. Page acknowledged that would not have been possible without the hard work of Stillman’s seventh president, Dr. Cynthia Warwick.

The Rev. Dr. Sue Westfall

Page is committed to maintaining and revitalizing Stillman College’s long history of collaboration and partnership with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Rev. Dr. Sue Westfall, general presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, says, “We have had a historic relationship with Stillman and will continue to offer prayers and financial support, and be colleagues and partners in the mission of God’s work.”

RE&WIM Director Leonard is creatively thinking about what it looks like to look differently in how RE&WIM’s resources and support go deeper than just handing over a check without building tangible and sustainable relationships.

The Rev. Shanea D. Leonard

The Rev. Wilson Kennedy, Associate Director for Special Offerings and Appeals in the PC(USA), is working to help renovate Stillman College’s oldest dormitory, Winsborough Hall, which was constructed in 1922. Winsborough Hall is named after Hallie Paxson Winsborough, superintendent of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Presbyterian Church. Prior to 1916, the Women’s Auxiliary was unable to develop programs to support the Black women of the church because of the inability to identify leaders among Black women. In August 1916, the Auxiliary held the first Conference for Negro Women at Stillman. These conferences were designed to facilitate discussions around interracial relationships within the church and advance the church’s successful efforts in this area. Women from Black churches were invited to the conference to receive instruction in Bible study, Christian living, homemaking, sanitation and community service.

Friday’s celebration commences a new chapter at Stillman, a chapter that, judging by Page’s investiture ceremony, feels joyous and hopeful. It is in that spirit that Page believes it is a top priority to continue to strengthen Stillman’s relationship with the PC(USA). Stillman was born through the church and continues to be one of its success stories. Page invites all Presbyterians to visit the campus; engage with faculty, staff, and students; hear the renowned Stillman College Choir perform, and consider hosting meetings and  events on Stillman’s campus.

Dr. Yolanda W. Page is Stillman College’s eighth president.

The future is bright and being renewed daily at Stillman, Page said. “Soon, we will embark on a campaign to raise funds to restore our campus buildings. Several of them — such as John Knox Hall and Hallie Paxton Winsborough Hall — are concrete connections to the Presbyterian Church, so I would be delighted for Presbyterians to partner with us to restore those halls.”

“Presbyterians should feel inspired by the positive and history-making activities that have occurred at Stillman during the past months,” Page said. “Several of these activities complement the foci of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, so I look forward to the many opportunities for continued collaboration.”

“It is important to note that Stillman was born through the church and was once administered through and merged with its mission office — we share DNA,” Page noted. “Stillman is one of the church’s longest-surviving ministries. It continues to be a beacon of hope, and our missions align. I hope that each institution will reconnect in order to strengthen both for the work we are called to do in this world.”

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.