O-o-o, O-o-o-h-h… It’s the Tom Joyner Morning Show!! The “Fly Jock” also known as the syndicated radio host, Tom Joyner wasn’t at Dillard to broadcast his early morning show and make jokes about the latest celebrity mess-up, rather, for a press conference to announce his new initiative.
On Friday, December 8, 2006, the leadership of Dillard, SUNO and Xavier universities gathered in a casual but professional manner to welcome the man behind so many efforts to educate African American youth.
Hanging from the stairwell a banner read: The Tom Joyner Foundation is proud to support Dillard University, Southern University of New Orleans and Xavier University “Rebuilding through Education.” The lobby of DUCIEF on Dillard’s campus held the news conference to announce Mr. Joyner’s latest efforts to raise additional funds for three New Orleans’ HBCU”s hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.
Karen Celestan, the new Senior Director of Communications at Dillard welcomed the press and guests for this momentous occasion. When asked about the importance of Tom Joyner’s presence on Dillard’s campus, Senior Director of Communications, Karen Celestan expressed her thoughts.
“HBCU’s really have to support one another because sometimes we are ignored by mainstream society. The presence of Tom Joyner as a national media celebrity can only help HBCU’s, and more importantly Dillard University.” He is obviously a caring individual because he left his vacation to come here.
The distinguished yet warming voice of Warren Bell, Associate VP of University and Media Relations at Xavier, moderated the event.
Mr. Bell, a former faculty member and friend of Dillard expressed the unusual circumstance for the “3-fer school of the month.” On occasion, the Tom Joyner Foundation picks one school a month to raise funds for but decided to choose the three HBCU’s in New Orleans for a joint endeavor to kick off the New Year. Each University is still engaged in various stages of rebuilding and recovery while staying true to their mission of educating their students. Paying for the repairs and financial aid for students continues to be a daunting task for the schools which is why the latest efforts by Joyner’s foundation are gratefully welcomed.
Remarks from university presidents reiterated the importance of Tom Joyner’s enthusiasm and hard work to keep the nation informed abut the plight of that specific school. Dr. Marvalene Hughes thanked Joyner.
“Never before did I personalize the meaning of what you did until you took us under your wing and I want to thank you particularly for what you do for Dillard.
President of SUNO, Dr. Victor Ukpolo merits Tom Joyner for stepping up to the challenge and touching the lives beyond that of the students and their families.
“[Joyner] ranks among individuals as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.” God gave Tom Joyner, ‘the wisdom and courage’ to assist us in educating our students, said Ukpolo. He also reminded the attendees that SUNO was not yet back on campus but they were well on their way and “your [Joyner’s] voice was more important than money.”
Joseph Burg, VP of Student Services at Xavier stood in Dr. Norman Francis’ place as he was unable to attend due to all of the accolades he is receiving, as he was just nominated for the White House presidential Medal of Honor.
The media conference continued as student representatives shared how their scholarship from the Tom Joyner Foundation helped them. Senior, Diamonique Pollard from SUNO expressed her appreciation as did Miss Dillard 2006-2007, Diana Maria Green. Crystal Moore, Xavier’s SGA president feels that, “Katrina was a set back but believes it is going to be a set-up for something great.”
The philanthropist who keened the phrase, “partying with a purpose,” took the podium to express his ventures for the new initiative. Tom Joyner Sr. gives all the credit to his son, Tom Joyner Jr. a.k.a. Killa, the real man behind the foundation. The Tom Joyner Foundation was formed in 1998 and has raised and distributed $55 million for students at HBCU’s. Tom Joyner says, “It is one thing to get in [school] but it’s another to stay,” referring to the hardships that come with finding financial assistance for higher education. After Katrina the foundation raised $1.7 million, of which 1 million came from the foundation itself. The foundation does two things. It raises money and more importantly it brings awareness.
Tom Joyner announced for the first time that his foundation was launching a church campaign. On Jan.14, the Sunday of Martin Luther King’s birthday, he is asking that churches take up one collection for the Tom Joyner Foundation; especially churches that took in and aided those affected by Katrina. The goal for the Foundation for January 2007 is $1 million.
Mr. Joyner goes on to applaud the faculty of the three universities for their dedication. “They could be doing something else, somewhere else, for a lot more money and recognition.”
The initiative is a nationwide campaign that kicks off Dec. 8 and will be promoted through Joyner’s syndicated morning program- aired in 120 markets reaching nearly 8 million listeners- throughout January 2007, to raise $1 million to be divided among the three institutions.
There were several students and members of Dillard’s Student Government Association in attendance.
Miss Dillard, Diana Green, senior biology major from Chicago, Ill. was “happy to see people not necessarily connected with the university helping to make a positive change within the community.”
As Warren Bell said, “With GOD and Tom on our side…You know we bad!!!”