Education

Footwear Designer Plans to Open First Design-Focused HBCU

Former Nike designer D’Wayne Edwards plans to reopen Michigan’s only historically Black college and turn it into the first design-focused HBCU, Essence reported.

Edwards is the founder of the PENSOLE Design Academy in Oregon and a stockholder of the closed HBCU, the Lewis College of Business, according to WXYZ, Detroit’s ABC-affiliated television station. He aims to open the college in March 2022 with open enrollment starting in December 2021.

The Lewis College, which closed in 2013, would be renamed the PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design. The College for Creative Studies, a private art and design school in Detroit and a partner in the venture, plans to host the reopened college until the institution finds its own campus.

The college is seeking authorization from the Michigan Department of Education and recognition from the Michigan State Legislature as an HBCU, according to a press release.

“This is a need we have,” Edwards said in a speech at the original site of the Lewis College of Business. “We’re going to do this together.”

The college will offer courses created with input from brands to prepare students for future jobs and internships. Edwards said sponsoring brands will pay for the costs of tuition and housing for students, making the college “majority tuition-free.” Current sponsors include Nike, Adidas, Puma, Skechers, Cole Haan, New Balance and other companies.

“As a predominantly Black city, Detroit should have an operating Historically Black College,” Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said in a press release. “Not having one has been a hole in our educational landscape for too long.”

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