University president, Dr. Ford, wants to build relationships with students

Courtesy of Sabree Hill, University photographer


NEW ORLEANS (September 22,2022) –Dillard University’s eighth president, Dr. Rochelle Ford, has dedicated much of her time to cultivating her relationships with not only faculty and staff, but students as well as she begins building community on campus.

“Dillard is my front porch. This is my home,” said Dr. Ford about her new leadership role.

Dr. Ford said that a sense of community is important to her. She recalled a custodial worker, Ms. Judy, who used to check in on her when she was an undergraduate at Howard University. Dr. Ford said that Ms. Judy even remembered her when she returned to teach at Howard’s School of Communications. Dillard University has been known to foster a similar sense of community.

 “And to see that students and faculty and staff and alumni have that experience  I want to help ensure that that sort of community lasts, you know, for years and years and years to come,” said Dr. Ford.

Dr. Ford has been engaging with the students since their arrival for the fall semester.

“I tried to learn some of the dances…I’ve got all of the arm movements,” said Dr. Ford, who spent time with the Bleu Babes, Dillard’s intramural dance team. She is making a point to be in the same space as students. Dr. Ford said she takes responsibility for everything happening on campus and said she believes the only way she can fix problems is by engaging with students and seeing the spaces they are in.

“And even though I’m not in the classroom, right now, I’m responsible for the classroom,” said Dr. Ford. “ And even though I may not be the advisor of a student organization, I’m responsible for all the student organizations. So I need to know what’s going on.” 

Dr. Ford officially took on the role on July 1. A native of Gahanna, Ohio, she previously served as Dean of Elon University’s School of Communications where she was responsible for more than 80 faculty and 1,500 students. Prior to coming to Dillard, she completed a fellowship through Clark Atlanta University’s HBCU Executive Leadership Program and said that the program 100% helped her to prepare for and understand the challenges that HBCUs are facing today.

For her presidency, Ford has three major goals that include having facilities that withstand the forecast, fortifying faculty and staff, and financing the future. Dr. Ford said she wants to ensure the longevity and success of not only the campus, but the professors and students. 

“If I can work on those three things, and get community, alumni, business and industry, government to invest in Dillard, I think they’re going to get a strong return on their investment with graduates who are leaders, graduates who think and communicate precisely, leaders who are living ethically, leaders who are acting courageously. That’s going to be the return on the investment.”