Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins
Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, a woman with extensive higher education experience who is adept at the inner-workings of SACSCOC and of HBCUs, became the Eighteenth President of Bennett College on July 5, 2017. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Dawkins served as Interim President at Bennett for just under a year. She arrived at Bennett in November 2015 as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Bennett College has undergone a dramatic transformation under Dr. Dawkins’ leadership. Enrollment and retention are up. The average GPA of Bennett students is higher than it has been in previous years. Fundraising has increased. Moreover, the College has gained national prominence because of Dr. Dawkins’ efforts to lead a successful bipartisan legislative effort and because of her Presidential appointment to a White House Advisory Board. The legislation that Dr. Dawkins’ spearheaded enabled Bennett and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities to get deferments on payments to the HBCU Capital Finance Loan Program, which over a six-year period will result in $8.9 million that Bennett will use to stabilize financially, invest in capital improvements and continue growing enrollment.
During fall 2018 under Dr. Dawkins’ tenure, Bennett realized an increase of 37% in new students – including seven transfer students and two international students – compared to fall 2017. Likewise, retention was up 44% in fall 2018 compared to fall 2017. Additionally, Dr. Dawkins has made a concerted effort to increase fundraising at Bennett College, largely by working closely with Bennett Alumnae, a key Institutional stakeholder. In FY 2018, Bennett Alumnae donated $1.7 million to the College and contributed another $500,000 in pledges. Bennett has also reached out to a wide range of foundations and corporations under Dr. Dawkins’ leadership.
Academically, Bennett curriculums and programs have been strengthened under Dr. Dawkins’ watch. The College has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with Winston-Salem State University, Pfeiffer University, North Carolina A&T State University and the American Language Academy. The College continues its strong International Program under Dr. Dawkins’ management. Moreover, she has reinvigorated Bennett’s relationship with several church denominations, including its founding denomination, The United Methodist Church. Dr. Dawkins has also been highly active throughout Greensboro and North Carolina, speaking to various groups and networking on behalf of Bennett, and she has hosted or supported several events on campus to increase Bennett’s local and statewide visibility and to bring resources to the Institution.
Before assuming Bennett’s top administrative post, Dr. Dawkins worked at Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pennsylvania, Dillard University in New Orleans and at her alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She assumed critical responsibilities at those institutions to ensure successful reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), for JCSU and Dillard, and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) for Cheyney.
In 2018, Dr. Dawkins was appointed by President Donald J. Trump to serve on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The prestigious appointment means Bennett College will have a seat at the table when the President and the Secretary of Education are advised on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of HBCUs. Additionally, Dr. Dawkins is a member of: the Executive Committee of North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU); the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Board; the Bennett College Foster Care Advisory Board; the Board of Directors of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church; the Bennett College Career Corporate Advisory Board; UNCF Presidents’ Advisory Board; and the Presidents’ Advisory Board of the United Methodist Church’s Black College Fund. Moreover, Dr. Dawkins is Co-founder of the HBCU Faculty Development Network and a former past President of the Professional and Organizational Development Network (POD.)
Dr. Dawkins is an accomplished writer whose academic research has been published in various journals and periodicals. In addition, she wrote or co-wrote grants totaling more than $30 million. Among her numerous awards, in 2018 Dr. Dawkins was recognized as one of the Top 50 Most Influential African-Americans in the Piedmont Triad by Black Business Ink Magazine during the 2108 State of Black North Carolina Conference. In 2016, she was recognized as an Outstanding JCSU Alumni Woman.
Dr. Dawkins received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She received her Master of Arts from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of Science from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Dawkins is a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and she holds membership in the American Association of University Women. She is married to Bobby G. Dawkins, Ph.D., and they have two adult daughters: Malia Dawkins Jennings (Derek), M.A., an Actress/writer/producer and an Account Manager for NCompass International; and Demi Dawkins, M.D., who is in a Neurosurgery Residency at the University of Wisconsin.