ARGO: In recent months, several programs, majors and departments have been proposing changes, including the addition of an Africana Studies major and changes within Interdisciplinary program. The mass communications department may be changing its curriculum and its name to communication and media studies department. What do you think this will mean for the future of WSSU?
DJ: What we are trying to do and what we are still tinkering with is this new curriculum that we put in several years ago. That curriculum is designed to provide students with the opportunity to expose themselves to a wide variety of disciplines before they are forced to choose a major. What you are seeing now is just a tinkering that goes along with the implementation of this new curriculum. It is bringing things together that should be together and putting certain subject matter in the right department. It’s not necessarily going to change the content of those courses but placing them in the correct department context.
Intelligentsia: DJ, we always knew you had very little experience (and you still do) with curriculum and academics. As matter of fact your experience in Academics is minimal. You don’t tinker with a curriculum and students are not forced to choose a major.
ARGO:The country’s just come through a recession and the state budget has been cut ever single year. But you guys have put up three new buildings. How have you done that?’ and I just smiled.
DJ:We’ve done that with a lot of creativity, with the strategic use of debt in combination with fundraising and with the use of state funds. The master plan is part of the strategic plan and that’s about the vision and the future of the institution.
Intelligentsia: Argo, you have no clue, he has passed the debt to you by increasing tuition to pay for construction that the state should pay. Your student representative voted for it and the rest of the trustees he has in his pocket. Of course, in private he tells students not to worry because the taxpayers eventually pay for it! Next time you take one of those general education courses, take Economics 101.
ARGO: Retention and enrollment rates have waivered over the past years at WSSU. What is the University doing to counter that?
DJ: A couple years ago, in 2012, our retention rate was the seventh highest in the system and it exceeded 80 percent. That has fallen off. On the other hand, we’re graduating more students today than we’ve ever in the history of this University, and you’ll see the graduation rate moving up. In 2007 we graduated 824 students. In 2013 we graduated 1,556 students – that’s an 89 percent increase in the number of students getting degrees from this institution and every year between 2007 and 2013, the numbers went up steadily. The retention rate, on the other hand, has suffered because funding has dried up and many students just cannot come back. There have been federal limits on Pell grants and Parent-Plus loans. In the fall of 2012, we lost about 750 students, and 150 of those were those who just normally flunk out — 609 were academically eligible to return and of the 609 who did not return, 200 of them had more than 90 hours and simply ran out of money. Some transferred and we tried as best as we could to track these students, but what we found was the main issue is money. So, when students start here and they’re unable to return the second year because of finances, it hurts the retention rate. Academically, we are stronger and better than we’ve ever been, but it’s higher education finance that is hitting the retention rates here and at many other schools.
Intelligentsia: Good lord, retention has suffered because “funding has dried up”! You are dumber than what we thought. They ran out of money because you keep increasing tuition and fees. Especially those fees related to Athletics to pay for your deficit. Didn’t Gerald Hunter tell you that you were bankrupting WSSU? You continue to claim that we have the best and the brightest but faculty continue to report the contrary. We know you are tampering with the profile. You only include those students who were accepted early on, those who you bring through the backdoor, the ones you call after you have rejected them, are not included.
ARGO: How have budget cuts UNC system impacted WSSU’s academic departments, majors and athletics?
DJ: What we’ve done here is make cuts in such a way that the academic departments have not been hit. We have not laid off or terminated one permanent faculty member. We chose instead to ask the full-time faculty to teach more and that enabled us to get rid of the adjuncts [part-time teachers] we had.
Intelligentsia: You saved money by overburdening faculty to teach, then you go on a 3-month vacation. What a deal!
DJ: In terms of athletics, in fall 2009, I made the decision to stop the University’s transition from NCAA Division II to Division I status.
Intelligentsia: You had no choice, you don’t bring money to WSSU, you waste it. Don’t you remember saying:” It’s not my problem, it’s Harold Martin’s problem.” You continue to re-write history!
DJ: As a result, there was a big uproar and everyone was mad, but it was the right thing to do because we could not afford to operate at the Division I level. For example, at the DI level, the number of scholarships on the football team was 63 versus 38 at the DII level. Also, there was a lot of more travel associated with being in DI, and we were spending about $6 million against a $4 million budget, so we saved a couple million dollars by staying in the CIAA.
Intelligentsia:We are still mad, we spend and spend and we do not win. Maynor left and he said:” Nothing more to be done.” You showed up at Bill Hayes home on a stupor while Campus Police drove you there. Bill said that he flipped the bird just like Hunter did and you made him retire. Are you going to cancel his reception too? I want to get some of those chicken wings! By the way, what was the argument about? Isn’t anything sacred, why show up to his house, where you lonely? No wonder, misery seeks misery!
ARGO: Speaking of athletics, UNC’s flagship institution, UNC-Chapel Hill, has been under fire because of reports that their student-athletes have substandard reading levels and have received grades for classes they did not attend. What is WSSU doing to ensure that student-athletes do not follow the same example?
DJ: What we’ve done here is put in place an academic program for our athletes that makes sure they go to class and study hall. The coaches, in addition to being responsible for their teams, also have responsibility to make sure students show up to class. If you’re not in class, you better have a doggone good excuse. If you don’t go to class, you don’t play, and we saw that with some football players last year. I can always tell who’s missing on the field. So I know you won’t find at WSSU the things that are being alleged at other schools.
Intelligentsia: Argo, please, that is not following an example. That’s performing below standards. But DJ has a weapon, change their grades.
ARGO: The Nov. 15 incident during the annual CIAA awards luncheon that left our quarterback injured. Since that time there have been numerous news reports. Recently the Winston-Salem Journal reported that Virginia State said that some of the comments you made during November’s awards luncheon were “offensive.” Have you seen Virginia State report?
DJ: I’ve looked at the Virginia State report. Blah, blah blah, blah.’ So if you’re relying on that to say that one person, this Mr. Britt, with one punch inflicted the kind of damage on Rudy Johnson – bruises, a black eye, a sore back and ribs from being kicked. If one person threw one punch and did all of that he’s better than Muhammad Ali. It’s absurd. The report is absolutely unbelievable.”
Intelligentsia: DJ, MAYBE Mike Tyson and throw in ALSO BITING HIS EAR! there you go again. You continue to say that there was a conspiracy. We have sent your comments to VS for making false accusations. It was jot just Mr. Britt, many of the alumni heard you too. Since when do you follow a script. You have always suffered from hooves mouth. You are unbelievable. You are a liar!
ARGO: Do you have any special plans for Mrs. Reaves for Valentine’s Day?
DJ:I’ll call her and wish her a happy Valentine’s Day. This year, we will be married 41 years. That’s not to say that after you’re married a long time, these things are of lesser importance, but they are (laughter). Also, I don’t know if you know this but my wife spends the winter in Florida. We have a home in Florida, and she’s smart. It’s cold outside, so she’s been in Florida since Christmas and she’ll come back for the CIAA tournament. I will certainly wish her a happy Valentine’s Day and tell her that I love her and if I happen to be in the store, I might buy her a card. After 41 years of marriage, there’s no love lost.
Intelligentsia: 41 years of putting up with you! She is going straight to heaven for sure. We can understand why she stays way in Florida, she feels great when she is away and we have to put up with your antics and juvenile behavior. Indeed she is smart! Ask Aramark to send her a cake or something or maybe that Johnny Walker you love to taste! Now, that’s being smart!