N.C. A&T On Point Newsletter

VOL. 4/ NO. 3 / MARCH 2021   

Chancellor's Message
Chancellor's Message

Two Moments in a March to Remember
  yellow img line  

N.C. A&T Chancellor Martin Sr.A pair of monumental moments bookended the North Carolina A&T experience this month, putting in historical and current context just how far our university has grown since its inception in 1891.

The first of those occurred March 9: The 130th anniversary of A&T’s establishment as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race. We were the first campus established in North Carolina under the second Morrill Act – the federal law that created land-grant institutions for Black students – and only the second nationwide.

The Morrill Acts did not treat the first land grants the same as those in the second wave; specifically, the latter received no federal grants of land. A&T began its journey in an annex of Shaw University, its Board of Trustees opting to move the fledgling college to a permanent home in Greensboro the following year, drawn by $11,000 in donations and 14 acres of land given by local citizens.

It was a fortuitous move. Over the years, those 14 acres became a beautiful, 188-acre main campus, supplemented by a 500-acre university farm, a research park and a health sciences campus, the latter two overseen in partnership with UNC Greensboro.

And the growth continues. Later this year, our College of Engineering will move into its new facility, a $90-million, state-of-the-art structure on the southwest corner of our main campus that our Board of Trustees recently voted to name the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex. Shortly thereafter, work will begin on the first part of a student housing and campus and community retail development adjacent to the National Historic District that constitutes 10 acres of our western border.

In the second of those bookends, the academic development of our institution was recognized just last week. At the conclusion of a three-day reaffirmation review, a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) committee reported to our leadership team that it had no areas of recommended improvement for A&T, while also offering multiple commendations for the university’s good work. The committee’s report will now go to the SACSCOC Board of Directors for final action, which we look forward to receiving later this year.

We are encouraged by the committee’s assessment, but in no way do we see it as an opportunity to relax. Our goals are numerous and demanding, and if the past 130 years have taught us anything, it is that such aspirations are only fulfilled through disciplined planning and hard work. Our university deserves it, and we will continue to prove ourselves up to the challenge.

Two remarkable events in a March to remember. May the dawn of spring be as promising and energizing for you.  

- Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

The new Martin Engineering Research and Innovation Complex will be completed later this year.

Impact Icon: bullseye

Reimagining Higher Education With Leading Peers
  _yellow line
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has joined 35 other top-tier colleges and universities across the country to form the new national Taskforce on Higher Education Opportunity, a bold new initiative that plans to tackle some of the most fundamental issues facing higher ed today.

Between them, the campuses enroll about 2.5 million students across the country. North Carolina is well represented, with A&T, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke and Wake Tech Community College all chosen to be part of the initiative, the most of any state in the nation.

A&T is also one of only two historically black universities included nationwide. Other institutions include UCLA, Minnesota, Washington University, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Arizona State, UC Davis and Spelman College.

“As the world, economy and careers marketplace change around us, higher education across the country is increasingly challenged to keep pace, ensuring that students have ample opportunity to learn and prepare for the workplace and that we meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve,” said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “The Taskforce promises to help us marshal leadership in support of those needs and be a knowledge exchange for how we can constantly and collectively improve.

“I welcome the chance for A&T to be part of this important initiative.”

One of the most immediate areas of focus for the Taskforce is helping to prepare graduates for success in a post-COVID economy. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the ways in which many organizations do business, as well as in delivery of higher education – perhaps permanently. Leaders of Taskforce institutions will collaborate on what constitute best practices going forward to ensure graduates emerge from campuses prepared for success in the new environment.

More broadly, the Task force is focusing on three major areas: Student success, supporting and partnering with communities and re-imagining the future of higher education delivery and access. For more information on the Taskforce, visit its website.

Trendline Icon: lightbulb

Songs of Solomon Could Make This King a Victor
  _yellow img line 
Victor Solomon
Mr. A&T Victor Solomon in a scene from his electrifying debut on the hit NBC show, “The Voice.”

North Carolina A&T has long been a launching point for professionals in the visual and performing arts to move on to greater success, from former drama teacher Richard Harrison’s Broadway acclaim that led to his appearance in 1935 as the first Black person on the cover of TIME to Kevin Wilson’s (’11) 2018 directorial nomination for an Oscar for his short film, “My Nephew Emmett.”

The latest Aggie to keep that tradition alive is still a student, but drawing attention and acclaim perhaps more so than any artistic predecessor in the 130 year history of our university: Victor Solomon, 22, whose vocal excellence is winning raves and fans on the NBC network’s hit singing competition series, “The Voice.”

Solomon, who serves this school year as the most prominent male member of our student body, Mr. A&T, debuted on the show on March 1, delivering a blind audition that floored the show’s celebrity judges, including John Legend, Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton. The final performer in the debut episode of the show’s 20th season, Solomon sang Legend’s Academy Award-winning hit, “Glory.”

During banter with the judges following his performance, Solomon and Legend jumped into an impromptu duet of the first verse of another Legend song, “Ordinary People,” after Solomon confessed he won a school talent show singing the hit in eighth grade. Unsurprisingly, Solomon chose Legend to be his coach for the competitive stage of the series.

Solomon, an A&T senior, followed that up with a performance at the 17th national Mr. HBCU competition, winning that title, as well as the contest’s oratory and talent sub-competitions.

For a standout member of the acclaimed A&T Fellowship Gospel Choir and a longtime performer in church and school, occupying the limelight is nothing new. If the nearly 8 million viewers watching The Voice’s two-hour season debut, the nation’s most-watched television show that night, caused any nervousness, Solomon didn’t show it. In fact, as judges turned their chairs to signal their interest in coaching him, he rose to the occasion, with a flurry of vocal gymnastics that wowed them further.

This was the first time Legend has ever turned his chair for a contestant singing one of his many hits. He affectionately called out Solomon as a student “at an HBCU where he’s the BMOC at N.C. A&T.”

The online version of Solomon’s performance has now been seen millions of times on multiple video platforms. Watch it here, and catch The Voice on Mondays, 8 p.m., on your local NBC affiliate.

Lab Report

Modeling Alzheimer’s for Treatment Development
 yellow line 
Brain cells In the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers, cells like this fail to clear away waste, debris and protein collection. (Credit: NIH National Institute on Aging)

A bioengineering team at North Carolina A&T promises to expand the frontier of science around Alzheimer’s disease with creation of a mini-brain model that could help speed development of drugs to treat the illness.

Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, principal investigator and bioengineering professor Yeoheung Yun, Ph.D., and his team of clinician experts in brain disease and immunology are designing a model that will replicate three key areas of entry for drugs that could effectively fight the disease.

“A human brain, or something equivalent to it, must be used for this drug delivery research because animal models do not fully recapitulate the spectrum of human neuropathology,” said Yun. “Because the differences between the human and animal brain are significant, the only way to change the game on Alzheimer’s research is to ethically target treatment strategies focused on the human brain and human brain tissue equivalents.”

“Yun joined A&T in 2010 as the first faculty member in A&T’s bioengineering program, which was established that year.” His research has included a federally funded study on nerve agents, such as sarin gas, to study their effects on the brain.

Yun’s work expands A&T’s already sizable focus on Alzheimer’s disease, which affects African Americans at rates far higher than Caucasians. The Center for Outreach in Alzheimer's, Aging and Community Health (COAACH) is the nation’s most prominent academic research and outreach institution focused primarily on the impact of  the disease on African Americans.

Yun and his team will collaborate with other researchers at Duke, Florida State, Chapel Hill and Wake Forest on this four-year project.

+ To learn more about this research, read the A&T news release. To learn more about COAACH, visit its website  

Data Points
Data Points

130 years NCAT
Few universities boast a history and current state as rich, interesting and diverse as North Carolina A&T. The first institution founded in North Carolina under the 1890 Morrill Act, A&T is a thriving land-grant research university and America’s largest and top-rated HBCU. 

To learn about the people, ideas and events that have shaped this influential and innovative institution, visit A Historical Journey through Aggieland: 130 Years of A&T.

Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr.

Erin Hill Hart
Todd Hurst Simmons

Sandra M. Brown

Yvonne L. Halley

Tonya D. Dixon
Jordan M. Howse
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a land-grant university that is ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a Doctoral University: High Research Activity.

N.C. A&T does not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, contact the Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator@ncat.edu.

N.C. A&T is an AA/EEO employer, and it is an ADA compliant institution; thus, facilities are designed to provide accessibility to individuals with physical disabilities.
A Historical Journey through Aggieland: 130 Years of A&T.