Barber-Scotia Luke Dorland Complex

By Dr. Melvin I. Douglass
President, Barber-Scotia College

April 12, 2020 12:40AM

Before Hampton, Spelman and Tuskegee, there was Barber-Scotia College. A Presbyterian school founded in 1867 for the purpose of educating the daughters of former slaves. The College was created in the image of Mount Holyoke, the prestigious New England College, for white women from privilege families. In other words, Barber-Scotia College gave poor students what rich students pay for.

Almost 153 years later, Dr. Melvin Isadore Douglass, who is the 24th President of Barber-Scotia College and a graduate of Tuskegee, Columbia and Harvard, has made the above educational philosophy the College's slogan. In order to make the slogan a reality, he has taken Barber-Scotia traditions, Ivy League best practices, Oxonian and Cantabrigian flairs to create a new niche for the iconic institution that improves on the college experience. Dr. Douglass implemented several strategies.

Barber-Scotia College now employs the Harkness method (named after Edward Harkness) to deliver instruction. It starts in the classroom and reaches the practice field and living quarters. For example, the College has almost eliminated the concept of large dorms. Instead, it uses 6 houses, each with a distinct coat of arms that contains 8 students. The houses are more than a place of residence. They are spaces for education, learning and life experiences. The houses also foster camaraderie, teamwork and competition. Healthy competition between the houses appears in the form of basketball, softball, tennis, gulf, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, debates and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) projects.

The Harkness method undergirds collaboration and respect for fellow students. It places value on the opinions of every voice in the group. The Harkness method was established in 1930. It consists of 10 students and one professor sitting around an oval table, while discussing the topic under investigation. According to Dr. Douglass, "It is one of the best ways to get and keep students engaged. The Harkness method is used in every discipline and subject throughout Barber-Scotia College."

Dr. Douglass also enhanced the concentrations, i.e. Renewable Energy, Business Entrepreneurship and Religious Studies at Barber-Scotia College. With the exception of religion, the other concentrations are fortified by thirty credits of theology courses that range from the Bible as Literature to Black Liberation Theology. This was done to give students a broader knowledge base in theology and address the criteria for membership into The Association for Biblical Higher Education, an approved United States Department of Education accrediting agency.

After providing students with the aforementioned experiences, Dr. Douglass feels students ought to be exposed to the grandeur, sophistication and graciousness that accompany a quality education at Barber-Scotia College. He requires students to wear business casual to classes and their Workforce Development Programs, business formal on Dress for Success Day and an academic gown for convocation. Furthermore, students must attend classes on etiquette. Once a month, they are obligated to appear at a "Black Tie" dinner with the president and an annual Founder's Day Ball. At this elegant event, the compulsory attire is "White Tie and Tails".

Dr. Douglass contends, some people may think that these educational experiences are costly. On the contrary, the full tuition is only $14,500. Room and board is $7,500. He has created the Cozart - McLean Scholarships to cover tuition. However, students are responsible for fees, room and board. The scholarship will be given to 25 underserved students, who have not demonstrated academic excellence in high school because of various reasons. However, they must exhibit great potential and a desire to better themselves. Applications for admission and scholarship consideration will be accepted until the end of June 2020. Students should go to the Barber-Scotia College website for the application form.

In order to expand his vision for the future development of the College, Dr. Douglass has begun a 3-year capital Campaign to raise 10 million dollars. He is encouraging a million people to donate $10. With the help of local and global philanthropists, the goal will be actualized.

Dr. Douglass believes all students that enter Barber-Scotia College are diamonds in the rough but with hard work and rigor, they will shine in College and beyond. Just give poor students What rich students pay for.