Category: Fall 2022, Georgetown Magazine

Title:Georgetown partners with HBCU system

Author: Kate Colwell and Rosemary Lane
Date Published: September 27, 2022
ray belton and president degioia
Ray L. Belton (left), president of the Southern University System, and John J. DeGioia (right), president of Georgetown University, sign a memorandum of understanding in Riggs Library. | Photo: Phil Humnicky

Georgetown has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Southern University System, a system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), to collaborate on interdisciplinary programming, research, and training over the next five years.

“Southern University has been a terrific partner,” says Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. “We are very excited to identify areas of mutual interest and to work as partners as Southern continues its 142-year tradition of excellence.”

Southern University is the only historically Black university system in the U.S., offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees to more than 12,000 students across five campuses in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport, Louisiana. Southern University’s co-founder, John Sebastian Jones, is a Descendant whose ancestors were enslaved and sold by the Maryland Province of Jesuits in 1838, some proceeds of which supported Georgetown University.

This is not the first collaboration between Georgetown and Southern University. Most recently, Georgetown and Southern University System Foundation (SUSF) partnered to provide resources to communities in Louisiana impacted by Hurricane Ida. And beginning in 2018, Southern University served as the host location for the series of dialogue sessions with Jesuits, Georgetown leaders, and members of the Descendant community. The dialogue sessions, which sought to explore sustainable actions and partnerships, led to the creation of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on racial healing and educational advancement for Descendants. Georgetown and Southern University both serve on the foundation’s board of trustees.

In the future, Georgetown and Southern University will work together on joint research and curriculum projects, the exchange of faculty and research scholars, faculty training and development, and grants and student pipeline programs.

“The programming that is currently underway between Georgetown University and Southern University has made a sizable impact throughout our university communities,” says Al Harrell III, CEO of SUSF. “We look forward to exploring new lines of research and connecting our students, faculty, and constituents to meaningful programs.”

The two partners signed the memorandum during the SUSF board of trustees retreat on April 22, which was hosted at Georgetown. The retreat, attended by Georgetown and SUSF leaders, included remarks and presentations from U.S. Rep. Troy Carter—who represents Louisiana’s second congressional district—and U.S. government leaders in education, policy, transportation, and agriculture.

“This partnership with Georgetown offers yet another avenue of success for our students and faculty,” says Southern University President Ray L. Belton. “With the brain trust composed of these top institutions of academics and research, the possibilities are limitless.”

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