A MOSAIC Magazine exclusive

Johnson C. Smith University announces details of ambitious initiatives

Photos by Fred Braziel

Preceding the final CIAA games on Championship Day Saturday, Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University, made groundbreaking announcements at the President’s Championship Saturday Pre-Game Reception on March 2. The event was held at the Foundation for the Carolinas building in uptown Charlotte.

Faculty and key sponsors revealed details of a five-year, $150 million campaign, titled, “Tomorrow Is What You Make It,” which Carter, in an interview only with MOSAIC Magazine, called “the most comprehensive program of its kind in the country.”

One affiliation released at the event outlined the collaboration between JCSU and Perkins Management Services Co. Newly relocated to Charlotte, Perkins is one of the fastest-growing, minority-owned contract food-and-beverage organizations in the country.

“I would like to announce our partnership with Dr. Carter and his vision to bring health food to the west end,” said Nicholas Perkins, chairman, president and CEO of his namesake company. “The beautiful Mosaic Village had a host of retail spaces that were available … we leased all four of those spaces,” says Perkins.

The union will bring yogurts and smoothies, along with salads and other on-the-go health food options, to Mosaic Village, an apartment community located a half-mile from the JCSU campus. The complex is home to a diverse group of students, Teach for America personnel, individuals, couples and families pursuing education-related opportunities at or near Johnson C Smith University.

Photo by Fred Braziel

Dr. Carter near the aquaponic systems in the JCSU Greenhouse

In his address during the reception, Carter also outlined plans to add an aquaponic garden to the institution’s newly opened sustainability village. Carter announced that there will be a farming system to cultivate tilapia and other fish, and healthy food will be grown and provided to the local community to assist the 72,793 residents in Mecklenburg County affected by food deserts (areas without access to nutritious grocery stores, often in low-income areas). Students are planning to replicate this technology in a community in Haiti during summer 2013.

“This village is the university’s visible demonstration of our commitment not to deplete the earth’s rich resources but to teach a new generation of people how to farm and understand the importance of taking care of Mother Earth,” Carter said.

Carter communicated another phase of the campaign, which includes a “healthplex” built last year. Promoting health research by faculty and staff, the facility houses strength training and cardio equipment already in use by university affiliates and the Charlotte community. In addition, nutrition and wellness classes are offered to local residents who want to attend.

Other aspects of the campaign include a soon-to-be-built, 68,000-square-foot STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) complex and collaboration with Charlotte’s Web, a technology mentorship initiative that will assist African American and Hispanic males from West Charlotte High School in learning new high-tech computer technology.

“We will be able to announce this campaign publicly either by the end of this year or at the beginning of January (2014),” Carter said. “And you usually don’t announce a campaign of this nature unless you have at least $100 million already in hand,” he confidently announced to supporters during the private president’s day reception.


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