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Cole to leave Bennett College next summer

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Johnnetta B. Cole
July 12, 2006

A UMNS Feature
By Nancy E. Johnson*

Since Johnnetta Cole took the responsibility of revitalizing Bennett College for Women four years ago, the school has been successful in increasing its fiscal and physical operations and instituting new and innovative academic programs.

During a July 11 press conference, Cole recapped the “marvelous trajectory that is propelling us toward unquestionable excellence” and also indicated plans to step down as the 14th president next June.

The accomplishments of the historically-black college in Greensboro, N.C., have enabled its students to receive an education that prepares them to live productive lives that not only involve professional success but also meaningful service to others, she said.

When Cole, 69, took office at the United Methodist-related institution, her goals included building the endowment, which now stands at $10 million, improving student academic prowess, and increasing alumni giving and other revenue streams. Since those goals have been primarily met, she noted, the time is right to say goodbye.

“Are we done? Of course not. Great work is never done. But, I am proud to say that over these past four years, we have done some mighty good work in the interest of revitalizing Bennett College for Women,” Cole said in remarks on the state of the college.

“Indeed, in terms of the assignment that I was given when I arrived at Bennett in 2004, I feel that we can say: mission accomplished; and therefore, I can indeed honor the time schedule I laid out when I arrived at Bennett ? I will complete five years in the presidency and leave Bennett in June, 2007.”

Cole attributed the “phenomenal success” the school has achieved, to faith, hard work, and the support of many people. But, she also said, there is “some serious work to complete.”

She called on alumni, friends and supporters of the college to assist renowned author and poet Maya Angelou and former Senator Bob Dole, a United Methodist, in helping the institution reach its $50 million campaign goal. The campaign will impact student scholarships, faculty recruitment and development.

“It is essential that we reach this goal so that Bennett College for Women can be positioned to sustain the tremendous gains we have made over these past few years,” Cole said.

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A UMNS photo courtesy of Bennett College

Maya Angelou (right) looks on as Johnnetta Cole speaks at press conference announcing her departure.

Last year, a gala headed by Dole and former President Bill Clinton gave teeth to the capital campaign launched in 2003. This fall, Oprah Winfrey will headline a benefit gala in support of the “Revitalizing Bennett Campaign.” Tickets and sponsorship information will be available after Aug. 1 by calling the college’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (336) 370-9691 or by e-mailing

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