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Fine Arts Department Welcomes President Ben Vinson III with an Arts Celebration

Although it did not receive the turnout they expected, the College of Fine Arts treated Howard’s newly inaugurated 18th president with a warm welcome in Cramton Auditorium.

President Vinson III applauds the fine arts celebration at Cramton Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Latrell Caton)

The newest president of Howard University, Dr. Ben Vinson III, received a warm welcome from the College of Fine Arts (COFA) students with an arts celebration in Cramton Auditorium last week. 

With collaborations from the Showtime marching band, various poets, dancers, and singers from the Fine Arts department showered the president with hospitality on Nov. 2. 

The welcome celebration for the 18th President of the University was a collaborative effort between the School of Fine Arts and other arts organizations at Howard.

Despite being held in Cramton, which has 1,500 seats, the turnout was much less than hoped. Vinson, among other administrative faces such as Dean Phylicia Rashad and Assistant Dean Saunders-Thompson, made appearances to welcome and support. However, student turnout could have been higher, filling only a few rows in each section. 

Even students working behind the scenes in tech, lighting, and stage crew were surprised by the abruptness of the events. 

“[The turnout] could have benefited from more preparation and planning,” said Jamal Richardson, a sophomore theatre administration major and playwriting minor. “It is clear that President Vinson cares about the arts, so it’s sad that turnout didn’t reflect. The intentions and ideas were there, it just could have used more time. It was good for what it was.” 

Nevertheless, the performance persisted. After a brief introduction from Daquan Cooney and Skylar Wilson, the current Mr. and Miss. College of Fine Arts, the Showtime Marching Band filled the aisles and stage to set the tone for the night. 

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Showtime Marching Band takes the stage at Cramton Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Latrell Caton)

Shortly after, the musical theater students in the cast for this year’s production of Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity,” which had its run that same week, took the stage to perform two isolated songs from the musical. Mary, Joseph, all the shepherds and townspeople kept what energy was in the room with their strong vocals and intricate costumes done by the stagecraft students. 

Brandon Terry, freshman music business major and jazz drums minor, stunned the crowd with a drum solo to a “Black Panther” soundtrack medley, drumming over “All the Stars,”’ “Pray for Me” and more. 

“It was so cool to hear a different rendition of Black Panther and it felt fitting because Chadwick Boseman represents this school. So, to pay homage to him through art at Howard is always a special moment,” stagehand Sarina Martinez de Osaba, a senior sports medicine major and theatre arts minor, said.

The event finale consisted of spoken word from the College of Fine Arts Council President, Julius Shanks II, a junior acting major and film production minor. It featured a monologue from junior acting major Diezel Braxton-Lewis. 

“It was amazing to see all of my peers and classmates doing so well on stage welcoming our new President…It was a privilege to share that with everyone in the room and it went wonderfully,” Brazton-Lewis said. 

Copy edited by Whitney Meritus

***Correction: The Hilltop previously reported that there were over 300 seats in Cramton auditorium. The article has been edited to reflect the more accurate number of 1,500 seats.***

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