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Johnson C. Smith Names Building for Former Shaw President

Dorothy Cowser Yancy Building - JCSU

April 27, 2015 – Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) formally recognized former Shaw University President Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy on April 11 by renaming the Information and Technology Hall on JCSU's campus in her honor. In 2013, Shaw renamed its Institute for Health, Social and Community Research building the Dorothy Cowser Yancy Building in honor of Dr. Yancy's tremendous contributions to the University.

The naming ceremony opened with a welcome by JCSU President Ronald L. Carter and comments by Monroe Miller, chairman of the Board of Trustees. Trustee Emeritus Thomas E. Baldwin '71 and Dr. Magdy Attia, Chair of the Council of Deans and Dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, offered tributes. The Board of Trustees conferred an honorary doctorate degree to Dr. Yancy following the naming ceremony. Shaw previously conferred an honorary degree to Dr. Yancy in 2011.

Dr. Yancy, a native of Alabama, served as the 14th and 16th president of Shaw. She was the 12th president of JCSU and the first female to hold each of these prestigious titles. She retired from Shaw on December 31, 2013 and holds the title of President Emerita at both JCSU and Shaw. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Social Science from JCSU, a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Atlanta University (Georgia). 

At Shaw from 2009-2010, Dr. Yancy was able to stabilize the financial state of the University by securing a $31 million federal loan. She restructured and refinanced the University's debt, balanced the budget, raised the CFI score to a positive number and recruited one of the largest freshmen classes in the history of the University. She retired in September of 2010. She arrived back at Shaw September 1, 2011, after the campus had been torn apart by the April 16, 2011 tornado. By April 16, 2012, the devastation had been abated and all buildings were back in use. In addition, she led the University through five program accreditation reviews and the regular SACSCOC reaffirmation.

As president of JCSU from October 1994 to June 2008, Dr. Yancy marshaled phenomenal growth and progress. During this period, she completed two significant capital campaigns raising more than $145 million dollars and was heralded as one of the best fundraisers nationally. Additionally, during her tenure, the JCSU endowment more than tripled from $14 million to $53 million. Under her watch, a new technology center, a library, and a track/stadium/academic complex were constructed. JCSU was the first HBCU to become an IBM "Thinkpad" University.

"With this building, we celebrate the Yancy vision and the profound impact her support had and will continue to have on the academic and cultural life of the University for generations to come," said JCSU President Ronald Carter.

Portions of this story and accompanying photo appeared on