October 12, 2020

"Vote As If Your Life Depends On It, Because It Does"


The November 2020 Presidential Election has been beset by every challenge imaginable.  They include pandemics, politics, and protests like never before. These challenges also include petulant, uncivilized, and recalcitrant behavior by people who should know better.  However, in spite of this cacophony of words and actions (ok you can put your thesaurus up for the rest of this message) we must all exercise our hard fought for, and earned, inalienable right to vote.  Of course, it wasn’t always so inalienable.  No need here to repeat the well-known legacy of Black people’s fight for suffrage.  It is undeniable how much sacrifice was made in order for us to be able to vote.  With that in mind, we have to honor that collective sacrifice and participate in the election process.

It has been said that “a voteless people is a hopeless people”.  In the 1930s the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity introduced this phrase as a slogan for a national voting campaign. It rings incredibly true today as we look at a country that is full of people who have lost hope in this nation’s promise of “liberty and justice for all”.  So, if we are to have hope, we must vote.  And in order to vote we must be registered (Note: most deadlines have passed for the November election).  

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We also must verify our registration.  This election has already been highly contentious, and will likely be hotly contested, as well.  As a result, there is real suspicion that tactics to keep people from the polls will be utilized. Mail-in concerns and election day issues are also possible means to negatively influence the outcome of this election. Protect your voting rights.  Regardless of  your previous voting history, you should check your registration and verify you are in good standing.

If you plan to use mail-in voting options, please again verify the procedures and deadlines. In this COVID environment, many folks are opting to use this option out of concern for lines and crowds, however voting in-person is extremely safe and must operate with the appropriate COVID safety protocols.  For several years now, my personal preference is to use early voting.  It is extremely convenient (you can typically vote 8am – 6pm, Monday-Saturday during the two weeks prior to an election.) and the lines are usually shorter.  Regardless, of the option you choose, you must research your ballot prior to voting.  Ballots will be jammed with dozens of races, amendments, and propositions.  In addition to the presidential contest, November ballots will likely include state and local races which will include everything from mayoral and councilmatic races, congressional and other legislative races, school board races, judgeships, and more. My ballot has at least 19 contests and 8 amendments/propositions.  No way you can possibly know all of those options unless you do some research with your sample ballot before you actually vote.

So, we must do our civic duty.  We must honor those who made it possible for us to vote.  We must educate ourselves on the election process and execute a plan that includes selecting a voting option that works: early voting, mail-in voting, or day-of-the-election voting.  We must research our respective ballots, candidates, issues, and referendums prior to actually voting.  And finally, we must vote.  We must vote as if our lives depend on it, because they actually do.  VOTE!

Continue to do good work,


Our Online Education and Engagement Webinar Series continues, Friday, October 23 , at 12:00 p.m. (CST) / 1:00pm (EST), with "It’s a Different World for Faculty and Studenst: Pivoting, Salvaging, and Surviving the Semester During COVID-19 " presented by a distinguished panel featuring several of our AABHE members who have current faculty appointments. You can register online at

Dr. Silver met with reps from IBM who have time-sensitive programs for students at our various campuses.  Here is a summary of the key programs they discussed:
IBM $100M Give of Resources to HBCUs - IBM Global University Programs is working with our HBCUs who want to establish a higher level partnership with IBM. In September, 17 HBCU's were highlighted in a press release for their commitment to engage with IBM with the goal of using $6M of IBM resources in 2020. In 2021 and future years this will be the foundation for even further potential collaboration. Leveraging the below and additional opportunities in development is the platform for establishing this relationship with our first 17 HBCUs with a march to $100M in 2020. We are identifying the next 17 HBCU partners and the goal is all 102 HBCUs leverage at least $2M in 2020 as the foundation for even more enablement in future years. 

IBM Academic Initiative - The IBM Academic Initiative is the program IBM uses to provide access for faculty and students at accredited academic institutions to use IBM resources for free for teaching, learning and non-commercial research purposes. The topics include data science, cloud computing, cyber security, blockchain, artificial intelligence, systems and more. The resources available include courseware, tutorials, access to a software catalogue, hardware and enhanced IBM Cloud access. In addition, the ability to request university quest lectures, including remote lectures, is part of this academic partners engagement program. Each faculty and student enrolls with their institution issued email address. This access includes industry and open sources resources. Please visit the new IBM Academic Initiative at Here is a video to help navigate the website:

IBM Skills Academy is the integrated program incorporating a week of faculty training, pre-built and maintained curriculum, hands-on cloud based labs, use cases, quizzes, exams and badges. The critical skills tracks are: artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber security, data science, IOT, cloud computing, design thinking and quantum computing. The requirement is for faculty who attend the workshop to return to their campus and using the same assets they were trained on begin teaching within a matter of weeks/months building those skills with their students and community. This is designed for all students (in the broadest definition of students) to leave the campus with a basis understanding of critical technology areas and to be able to apply it to their discipline and in use cases that matter in their field of study--for the approximate price of a textbook which we waived for HBCU's effective July 24th.

IBM Masters Fellowship - IBM is pleased to announce the inaugural 2020 IBM Masters Fellowship Award, which supports IBM’s long-standing commitment to workforce diversity. This new IBM Fellowship Award, up to $10,000 per graduate student from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), seeks to increase the number of under-represented minority students enrolled in master's degree programs, especially those with a particular focus on strategic areas such as Hybrid Cloud, Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber Security, Data Science and Systems. Candidates must be nominated by a faculty member, and submissions are due by October 23, 2020. Program details and FAQs are outlined at: If you have other questions, please feel free to contact

IBM PhD Fellowship Awards are nominated through a faculty member at the university to recognize and support exceptional PhD students. Nominations for the 2021 IBM PhD Fellowship Award program will be accepted until October 23, 2020. Strong collaboration with faculty, students and universities is vital to IBM. The IBM PhD Fellowship Program advances this collaboration by recognizing and supporting exceptional PhD students who want to make their mark in promising and disruptive technologies. Since the creation of the IBM PhD Fellowship Program in 1951, we have supported thousands of PhD students. The program seeks to increase the number of under-represented minority students in the referenced science topics of interest by encouraging a diverse applicant pool.
For further information contact


Valinda Scarbro Kennedy
IBM Global University Programs
Cell/Text: 630.747.8807
IBM Global Academic Programs Website:

“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE