Charlotte’s historically Black university, Johnson C. Smith University, installed Clarence Armbrister as its 14th president during an inauguration ceremony on Friday.
During his address, which revolved around the theme “Rise to the Pinnacle: Light the World,” Armbrister called on the Charlotte community to partner with JCSU to help close the opportunity gap through education. He encouraged those in attendance to provide scholarships as well as paid internships, mentoring and jobs for JCSU students.
“We are deepening our commitment to promising young people born at the bottom of the economic ladder in the Charlotte region,” Armbrister said to an audience of supporters inside JCSU’s Brayboy Gymnasium. “I believe in my heart without fear of contradiction, that there really is no institution better positioned to help close the opportunity gap in this community.”
To do so, Armbrister announced three initiatives:
- A new “Pinnacle Opportunity Scholars Program” will increase the number of Charlotte students accepted at JCSU. The university will work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and other area schools to identify perspective Pinnacle Scholars as early as middle school.
- “Radicalized” career planning will link more students to jobs. Armbrister said that his goal is for all students to participate in a “meaningful external work experience” by the summer of their sophomore year.
- A push to grow the school’s endowment from $70 million to $100 million within four years. According to Armbrister, the additional funds will enhance academics, kickstart new programs like the Pinnacle Opportunity Scholars, provide professional development for faculty and staff, and improve school facilities.
The ceremony was part of a series of events celebrating the president’s inauguration. Other events included an economic mobility symposium, a celebration of the arts, and the Founders’ Day convocation commemorating JCSU’s 152nd anniversary.