Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC), the only HBCU in the state of Michigan, is set to reopen in March 2022. Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of Pensole Design Academy, began this initiative in partnership with the College of Creative Studies (CCS), The Gilbert Family Foundation and Target.
Located in Detroit, Lewis College is a small institution with a rich history. The college was founded by Dr. Violet T. Lewis in 1928 as a secretarial school, but it later offered degree programs in business administration, office information systems and computer information systems. According to Edwards, Dr. Lewis was one of only three African American women in history to found an HBCU.
The college went on to educate around 40,000 people, and sent the first African Americans to General Motors, Chryslers and Ford Motor Car Company, the three largest car manufacturing companies. Due to a combination of job loss in Detroit, economic issues, accreditation loss and limited financing that caused a decline in enrollment, Lewis College closed in 2013.
PLC will be an institution catered towards students who want to pursue a career in the design and business fields. With its large variety of corporate partners, PLC is anticipated to provide students with resources like free tuition and housing, brand-sponsored programs and business programs. Students will also be given access to corporate internships, as well as full time employment through the College’s corporate partners.
Some of PLC’s corporate partners include: Nike, Jordan, Converse, Adidas, New Balance, The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Foot Locker, Herman Miller and Carhartt.
“PLC has partnerships with some of the largest footwear and apparel brands and retailers in the world,” Edwards said. “Combine that with Detroit being the only UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) City of Design in the U.S., the reopening will bring all those brands to the city, increasing the visibility for Detroit as a destination for design.”
CCS, an arts and design institution located in Detroit, is one of the founding partners in the reopening initiative. Dr. Don Tuski, the president of CCS, said that he had been in contact with Edwards and offered to collaborate on PLC’s reinstatement.
“We agreed to partner with Pensole and Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design because of their mission to provide more opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC),” Dr. Tuski explained.
As a school that specializes in design, CCS believes it can be a compatible asset to PLC’s new curriculum.
“Pensole’s approach offers diverse students more ways to access design education. And CCS can help facilitate that,” Dr. Tuski said.
The reopening of PLC marks a new chapter for students in the Detroit area. With Detroit being a predominantly African American community, the renovated school may become a space that opens its doors to several African American students with a passion for design.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful asset to the city, giving people choices,” Hellen R. Pacely, a class of 1994 Lewis College of Business alumna, said. “Like Wayne State, they have the major curriculums, everybody’s not interested in that so it gives us as people–Black, white, brown, whatever we are–another option,” Pacely continued.
As the reopening approaches, PLC anticipates a class of 300 students to enter into the program, with open enrollment beginning in December of this year.
Copy edited by: N’dia Webb