Vernell A. Bennett-Fairs, Ed.D. | President
Spring Semester 2023

Presidential Update

Since taking office at LeMoyne-Owen College in January 2021, I have focused my presidency on what I call the 4 Rs: recruitment, retention, revenue, and relationships to achieve the vision stipulated in the College’s strategic plan, Destination 2023.   That work began with hosting one-on-one visits with faculty, staff, and students to empower and uplift the campus while building relationships. It also meant being intentional about relationships with: the alumni (meet and greets, participation in alumni programming, 807 Telethon); the faith community (one-on-ones with faith leaders, Faith Forward dinner conversations, Sunday Stops) ; and developing partnerships with the Memphis corporate and private community at-large (Bank of America, Kroger, Lowe’s, Truist, City of Memphis, Shelby County Health Department) . 

My administration is keenly focused on improving recruitment and retention.  Our new processes have yielded positive preliminary results.  The addition of an Office of Student Success that includes full time advisors for the population that represent our highest attrition (freshmen and sophomores), identifying early alert systems, developing learning communities in the residence hall, and overhauling the recruitment process from application to enrollment will help the College achieve the fall 2023 recruitment goal.  Last year new enrollment increased 48% and retention increased 9%. 

 The College has expanded and improved its footprint. We renovated the Student Center, established a food pantry and are slated to open the Cyber Café in the fall. The Myron Lowery Communications Center will be a hub for all things communications to include a radio station, a podcast studio, a classroom, and more. 

We bolstered academics by identifying the first Program of Distinction (Cybersecurity), developed an entrepreneur certificate program partnership with the City of Memphis, and added five Fulbright Scholars to our faculty. We’ve also entered into several memorandums of understanding, including one with the New York Institute of Technology to create a pipeline for graduate study in Cybersecurity.  We are currently pursuing accreditation of 3 new programs: Music, Social Work and Computer Science.  Our Business and Economic Development program’s accreditation was recently reaffirmed through 2027 with no notes or conditions.

Communications and marketing took giant leaps forward by developing relationships with media to improve the College’s profile and brand recognition. The College has been featured in numerous stories in print, online and on television. The Memphis Business Journal published an article on the College’s raised profile this semester.  A PBS documentary about the school will premiere in September during HBCU Week.  Digital LED walls and message boards have expanded the College’s ability to market and communicate with the campus.  A total overhaul of the website is currently underway. That will increase the College’s brand recognition, improve recruitment and expand our ability to communicate with national and international audiences. 

Lemoyne-Owen underwent a million plus dollar technology upgrade across campus and in all classrooms, expanded the campus’ footprint through new land and buildings, and refreshed the website.  

Our new strategic plan is a campus-and community-wide effort that is currently underway.  We have entered into a partnership with the United Negro College Fund to complete that process that began last year. A campus masterplan is also underway that will lay the groundwork for further resurgence of the institution. 

Vernell A. Bennett-Fairs, Ed.D.
LeMoyne-Owen College


Increasing the student population at LOC


  • We are on track to meet our goal of 300 new students in the fall
  • New Student increase is 48%
  • First Time Freshman increase is 54%
Applications Target: 1200Applications Received: 1250 +

Strategies Deployed to Improve New Student Enrollment

Strategies deployed to help achieve the goal included:

  • Developed an Intent to Enroll (ITE) form to sooner gage prospect’s intention
  • Digitize ITE form to include links for housing application, registering for an NSO, and submitting an unofficial transcript to get registered before attending NSO
  • Cognizant of the traditional 25% yield rate, already exceeded the goal for applications received to achieve new student enrollment of 300
  • Automated processes
  • Enhanced implementation of the communication plan from interest, prospect, admitted, and enrolled status
  • Early scholarship notification and commitments (Scholarship letters sent out April 24. Last year, letters were sent during the end of May/early June. Students who sign early will receive a special presentation at their local high school from LOC.  They’re invited to attend the scholarship awards dinner scheduled for this summer. (Early enrollment indicator)
  • Enhanced NSO Experience- This includes early sign-up beginning May 1. Financial Aid early notification of attendees (communication for Financial Aid done prior and during NSO) Webpage experience, Student Orientation Leaders (Early enrollment indicator)
  • Student Support Services to assist with FAFSA completion as needed, LOC digital self-services, etc.
  • Early Financial Aid Award Letters- Students can begin to determine financial needs early for an informed decision to be made Late Nights at LOC. (Early enrollment indicator)
  • Alumni Postcards to Potential Students- Personal note from alumni to potential student as a gesture to encourage their decision
  • Commitment Email/Letter from Admissions to encourage payment of housing fees, NSO registration, advisement information, etc. (Early enrollment indicator)

FALL 2022 Activity

  • Made requesting a tour an online process. The average number of tours per week increased from 0-1 to 4
  • 435 individualized LOC admission boxes were hand delivered by recruiters to conditionally admitted students.
  • Attended 68 high school and college fairs during the Fall recruitment season
  • 60 schools assigned in Memphis and close surrounding areas that are being visited by recruiters bi-weekly. Not including schools in neighboring vicinity
  • Hosted a Counselor & Teacher Luncheon. Over 60 counselors and principals attended

Spring 2023 Activity

  • Attended 23 high school and college fairs
  • 88 scheduled campus tours
  • 15 LOC Days at various Memphis high schools
  • 3 LOC Signing Days
  • 60 schools assigned in Memphis and close surrounding areas that are being visited by recruiters bi-weekly. Not including schools in neighboring vicinity
  • The average number of tours per week increased from 0-1 to 4
  • LOC@ Nite (April – August) The Admissions Office has evening hours (4:30 – 7:00pm) to address student needs related to Admissions


Strategies Deployed to Improve Retention

The College’s IPEDS retention rate for first-time degree-seeking students has improved 9% year to year. 

We currently have 450 students who qualify to return in the fall.

 The Administration, the President’s Cabinet, the Office of Student Success, and Chairpersons met to discuss strategies to improve the number of continuing students who registered for Fall 2023 prior to May 1. They agreed to centralize advising and registration and host sessions in the residence hall during evening hours.

The goal is for 75% of continuing students to be registered by May. 

As of May 8, we are 79 students away from our goal.  We have 34% more continuing students registered for the fall this year than we did at this time last year.

Actions taken to improve retention

The data that will inform our registration and advising efforts going forward included: 

  • Restructuring the advising process
  • Forging collaborations between the Academy and Student Success to improve and streamline the registration process for continuing students
  • Offering a centralized location for registration
  • Offering incentives for students who registered by May 1
  • Mandating training and curriculum and online engagement standards for faculty who desire classes offered virtually (Appendix)
  • Mandating that residential students attend 75% of their courses in-person 


The 3rd Annual 807 Day Telethon is scheduled for August 7, 2023

The goal is to make this year’s annual telethon again, the College’s single highest day of fundraising.

807 DAY | AUGUST 7, 2023

This is the yearly kick-off of LOC’s fundraising efforts. The annual 807 Day Telethon is an initiative of the President. Donations help LOC make a significant impact in the lives of its students through scholarships, retention, and recruitment. Each year LOC connects with alumni, corporations, faculty, staff, and the Memphis community.

Please mark your calendar to attend and support the 807 Day Telethon on August 7.  We hope to exceed last year’s record-breaking fundraising total.  Co-hosts and call center volunteers are needed.  Alumni giving increased 40% after the first telethon in 2021.


2021 TOTAL: $127,028.39
2022 TOTAL: $132,449.29
2022 Website Link:





Tennessee State University (TSU) president, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover invited me to TSU to meet Oprah Winfrey and to discuss future joint projects between LOC and TSU.   President Glover also introduced me to a USDA lead who will make an introduction that will bring student scholarships and research opportunities and degree program enhancement support for Cybersecurity as we look to grow our first Program of Distinction.

President Glover, her AVP for Research and I will meet at LOC next month to begin to lay the groundwork for the following projects that will advance LOC:

  • Corporate Funding – (Two Fortune 500 Corporations )
  • Government Funding – USDA, Research and Development, Cybersecurity
  • Special Projects – Including Oprah Winfrey and others

Alumni Engagement

Alumni make the difference!  Thank you to the alumni who are serving as student mentors and advisors and are conduits to student internships and corporate gifts. Your efforts and contributions are reflected in recruitment, retention, and student success!

The Magic Hour with the President | June 29

June will be the kickoff of the monthly alumni brown bag.
Alumni can drop by to express concerns or ideas about the College on the last Thursday of each month from 11:00 am – 1:00pm. A link will be provided for posing questions or making suggestions.

Office of the President

Presidential Engagement



Verbally Effective Podcast

Dr. Vernell Bennett Fairs breaks down the role of an HBCU College President on Ep 254 of #verballyeffectivepodcast





“When Trevia and I met, we shared a common interest in supporting educational and business opportunities that lead to better outcomes for Memphis. We are actively discussing how we can help support and guide entrepreneurs both at the college and in the community. We agree that education is the great equalizer.”

Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs




Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs: helping female leaders reach next level.We are actively discussing how we can help support and guide entrepreneurs both at the college and in the community. 


Office of The President

Engagement Spotlight

Office of the President



2023 LOC Women's Conference

Uplifting the Women of LOC

The first annual Women’s Conference was a day full of education, empowerment, and uplift.  The full day of events ended with a session by actress and author, Malinda Williams.

Alumni, Campus & Community Engagement

2023 Black History Month Celebration

LOC history is Memphis history. We celebrated the living legacy of the countless Black Memphians and graduates who inspire, encourage, and uplift us all to make Memphis the best it can be.

Black History Speaks:
Myron Lowery

Town Hall Black AF:
Dr. Earle Fisher

2023 High School Band Invitational

Legacy Night / Family Dinner



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