Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Signs Bill Reopening State’s First HBCU

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to reopen the state’s first HBCU in Detroit.

D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of the Pensole Design Academy in Portland, Oregon, recently announced plans to turn the former Lewis College of Business, the state’s first HBCU, which closed in 2013, into a design-focused school.

“I am proud to play a part in helping reopen the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am committed to expanding educational opportunities for Michiganders across our state to put Michigan first.”

“I was proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the governor to have an HBCU back in the city of Detroit,” Rep. Joe Tate (D – Detroit), one of the bill’s sponsors, said. “I look forward to seeing the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design create valuable opportunities for its students and businesses across Michigan and Detroit.”

“Michigan’s creative talent has long been an important part of its economic success. This is underscored by the fact that the state boasts the highest concentration of commercial and industrial designers in the country and that Detroit is the only U.S. city recognized as a UNESCO City of Design,” said Don Tuski, president of College for Creative Studies.

“Detroit now has the first HBCU anywhere to reopen,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday. “As a predominantly Black city, this helps send a clear message that we are building one city for everyone; with opportunity for everyone.”

The Lewis College of Business was founded in 1928 by Violet T. Lewis in Indianapolis, Indiana as a secretarial school for Black women. The college relocated to its Detroit location at 17526 Prairie St. in 1939, where it remained until closing its doors in 2013. It’s expected to reopen on the campus of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design will offer free tuition and programs for Black creatives, designers, engineers, business leaders and more.

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