By Taroue Brooks
What inspired you to choose a career in higher education?
My pathway to a career in higher education was brought about through intentional engagement, mentoring, and sheer luck. The inspiration began on my first day at Albany State University where then-president, Dr. Billy C. Black, introduced himself and indicated that he was from Alabama and proclaimed that he had high expectations and over the course of four years provided guidance through mentoring. His successor, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields continued my mentorship and hired me five years, postgraduate school, as the Director of Continuing Education. These mentors and others set my dreams of being an HBCU president in motion with the purpose driven notion of being a servant leader. Education allowed me to dream and see beyond my circumstance and I am passionate about being a catalyst for the aspirations of other Black males.
What are your responsibilities as the Executive Vice President at Stillman College?
In my role as the Executive Vice President, I’m tasked with providing leadership for the senior cabinet of the institution, as well as providing oversight and advisement to the Board of Trustees in the absence and at the discretion of the president. I’m also responsible for ensuring that the alignment of the institutional mission, strategic plan, and assessment cycles are directed to, and representative of our student success goals and objectives.
How has Covid-19 impacted the campus?
The COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the soul and fiber of the institutional mission. In March and April of 2020 when many schools were closing and going to a fully online format, our mission guided us in the development of an approach that adhered to the CDC guidelines for safety. This approach allowed us to facilitate a hybrid approach to instruction and engagement, mindful of the need for an immersive experience for our students. As with other colleges and universities throughout the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated new strategies and mapping experiences that support pathways to completion and the engagement of business/industry in preparing students for a global marketplace.
How do you ensure that the students are being prepared for the world?
Stillman College is leading the way and understanding in the effort. Through the institutions Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), which is a requirement for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), guiding principles of accreditation. The QEP is focused on the current and future need to effectively communicate within the five generations currently represented in the workforce. Additionally, the QEP will facilitate competencies in dialogue, listening, and feedback within intergenerational settings, which promotes creativity, innovation, and evaluative skills in the workforce and entrepreneurial preparedness.
Why should a student consider attending Stillman College?
One of the most important elements of higher education, particularly progressive schools of thought, is the notion that students need to be critical thinkers. Thus, supporting them in seeing possibilities and benefits of interdisciplinary collaborations and cross-curriculum career options. The other essential element is experiential learning. Providing access to industry professionals, real-world problems, and exposure to entrepreneurial concepts through design-thinking projects is why students of all ages, both traditional and nontraditional, should consider Stillman as the path to their future.
Where do you see Stillman College in the next five years?
Stillman College has stood resolute for 145 years and produced scholars and professionals at the highest ranks and levels in medicine, law, theology, education, music, and athletics. This access point, which seeks to promote truth and create knowledge will continue to be a regional hub in the higher education landscape. We will continue to produce morally and socially conscious leaders who are not bound by the limits of their imagination.
Derrick C. Gilmore
Derrick C. Gilmore serves as the Executive Vice President at Stillman College, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Before his appointment at Stillman in 2020, he served as the Deputy Provost at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky, and a member of the Board of Regents. Mr. Gilmore has nearly two decades of experience in higher education, and spearheaded initiatives totaling over 500 million dollars in applied and basic research during his career. He serves on the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Council for Innovation and Technology, as well as serving on the Shelton State Community College ASPIRE 2030 Community Engagement and Development Subcommittee. Additionally, he is a member of the executive committee of the Southern Regional Education Board, Office of Postsecondary Education, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institution’s Initiative. He is driven by his mission to be an advocate for increasing the capacities of HBCUs’ to support the development and preparation of socially conscious leaders.
A native of Montevallo, Alabama, Mr. Gilmore is in the third year of this doctoral studies in adult and higher education at Morehead State University, located in Morehead, Kentucky. He is a proud alum of Albany State University, where he earned both a M.S. and B.S., he is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. The ultimate conviction of Mr. Gilmore’s life is being a husband to Karla F. Gilmore and father to their son, Jabbar A. Gilmore.