September 2015

What’s new for 2015-2016?




As we start the new year, The Falcon Forum looks at some things that are different around campus.

Stadium will open


This season marks the official opening of the George Williams Athletic Complex here on Saint Augustine’s Universities campus as five football home games are scheduled to be played. The first home game for the Falcons will be on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 against Virginia Union University. [See update here.]

For a full schedule, and season preview, click here.

— Issa Glivens

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An experiment in dormitory life

LivingLearningLogoSaint Augustine’s University has begun an experimental program that aims to make students’ experiences more enjoyable and more meaningful, and to create tighter bonds among them. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the number of students who leave the university before graduating.

Under the program, students are grouped by major on dorm floors, so that they not only take many classes together but live together in “Living/Learning Communities.” Plans call for new computer labs in the dorms so that the students can have 24-hour access to learning resources.

Living/Learning communities have been established at Latham and Weston dormitories, which are mostly inhabited by freshmen. Eventually, the goal is to expand the communities into Falkcrest and target upperclassmen as well, according to Dr. Paul Norman, Dean of Men and Director of First Year Experience.

In the Living/Learning Communities, students on the same floor spend roughly nine to 12 hours together in class, Dr. Norman said. The floors will have a “study hour” when a professor will come to the dorms to give personal help to students, he said.

It’s not a new idea, Dr. Norman said, In fact, almost 20 years ago the university — then Saint Augustine’s College — tried a similar program.

“I am not sure why it ended but, based on research this tool is a great way to assist in our retention efforts,” he said. “The thinking behind the Living/Learning Community is that it takes a community to educate a student. The Living/Learning Community is by no means a new concept to the College Community or Saint Augustine’s University.  The plan now is to begin with our freshman students and the goal is to see what type of impact we can have on our retention. The ultimate goal is to improve relationship outside of the classroom between students and faculty, and to improve academic performance.”

The benefits of Living Learning Communities Dr. Norman said, are involvement with students who have similar academic goals, greater opportunity for peer mentoring and tutoring in the residence halls, and the creation of a more collaborative learning environment.

“It works like a ‘buddy system’ – if one succeeds, then all succeed,” he explained. “The school is not trying to pick your friends or control you, the ‘buddy system’ is simply a set-up for success. If you’re struggling with editing in Communications, or having trouble keeping up with the law in Criminal Justice, for example, it helps if  you’re studying with or frequently having conversations with peers in your major. One may be stronger and he or she could help you get through and pass your classes.”

The program is part of a larger effort to change the culture at Saint Augustine’s University, Dr. Norman said. Other efforts include the Sons and Daughters of Saint Augustine’s University program, where freshmen males and females gather periodically in separate groups to discuss issues about life on campus.

Also, a policy begun last year has been extended – attendance at chapel on Sunday is mandatory for freshmen.

“There are a lot of opportunities on campus,” Dr. Norman said, “but you have to meet us halfway.”

— Johna Mitchell and Cianna Fisher

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Alumna hopes to lead library to new heights

Nevels-1The Prezell R. Robinson Library is not an unfamiliar place for its new director. Tiwanna S. Nevels is a Saint Augustine’s University alumnus and used the library often. In fact, she was a reference librarian and a research assistant in library during her years here as a student.

“I look at this job as an opportunity to come back to the school and give back,” Ms. Nevels said. “I’m glad to be back. It feels like home for me. It feels like this is where I need to be.”

Ms. Nevels attended Saint Augustine’s from 2004 through 2007, graduating in only three years. As an undergraduate, she was an active member of the community; she taught literacy classes to students involved in the Gateway Program, which is now known as the Extended Studies program.

After leaving the Falcon’s Nest, Ms. Nevels worked in various library positions with increasing degrees of responsibility. She worked at the Richard B. Harrison Library on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh from 2008 to 2011 as a library assistant. In that position, she taught basic computer classes, organized programming and worked the circulation desk. She also worked with book clubs and community outreach to surrounding neighborhoods for the Harrison Library.

Ms. Nevels moved on to North Carolina Central University in Durham. There, she worked in the Catalogue Department, getting new books in and placing them into a database. After that, she moved to Elizabeth City State University, where she was appointed Catalogue Manager. She kept up with the order database, receiving new books and replacing old ones

Ms. Nevels left Elizabeth City State in mid 2012 to join the staff at Alabama State University as a manager in three different areas of the library – acquisitions, collections and assessments. She also budgeted finances for the library and was in charge of acquiring new books. She was there for a year and, in 2014, Ms. Nevels migrated back to North Carolina where she took a job in the main branch of Durham County Public Libraries. She was the Adult Services Manager there, providing programming that was designed to be fun and educational. In that position, Ms. Nevels’ duties included organizing citizenship classes, entrepreneur classes, fair housing forums, book club meetings and community outreach programs.

Ms. Nevels assumed her current position with Saint Augustine’s on July 21, 2015. She has high hopes for the library. For instance, she wants to apply for grants for possible improvements such as 3D printing, green screening, new projectors and Smart Boards. “This would make the library more of a global learning environment,” she said. “Students should benefit from the library by being taught core values. Students should be taught not to plagiarize, how to sift through material and how to do in-depth research. Young women and men should come how they are but leave the library equipped and ready for the world because of the services we have given them.”

She has not made any changes yet, though. “The first few months are more of an assessment period,” she said. Ms. Nevels said she wants to determine the current “culture” of the library before deciding what needs to be done to make it better. “The library is the central hub for information on campus. I want to work with faculty and staff on building the bridge from the classroom to the library for students. It’s a collaborative thing.”

One thing she is sure about: Ms. Nevels genuinely loves the school and library. “As an employee I feel the same way now as I did back then,” she said. “I want to interact and connect with the students here at St. Augustine’s University.”

— By Charles Gilchrist

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A familiar face rises to top spot in campus police

IMG_3210There’s a new sheriff in town.

Interim Chief William H. Headen will lead Saint Augustine’s University staff of three campus police officers and 15 security guards this fall. He is replacing longtime Chief George Boykins, who is out on medical leave until January.

Known as “Officer H” to many on campus, Interim Chief Headen is well known to many on campus. “We are glad to see a promotion from within the unit,” Officer Randy Nelson said. “To have our very own moving up is great.”

“I am glad that’s Officer H was picked,” said senior biology major Justin Jones. “It’s good to see someone that knows the students and cares about us is in that position.”

Interim Chief Headen said he is excited to be in his new position. “I am very grateful that Dr. Ward and his staff chose me to do the job,” he said.

Interim Chief Headen has 26 years of law enforcement under his belt. He worked for the New York City Department of Correction from 1989-2010. His assignments included stints at the city’s main jail complex, Rikers Island, as well as at other detention centers and courts in Manhattan.

After retiring in 2010, he attended Vance-Granville Community College. After earning a degree in basic law enforcement training in 2012, he began working at Saint Augustine’s University as a security guard.

Born and raised in Bronx, New York, Interim Chief Headen said he wants students to see that no matter where you come from you can make something of yourself just as he did. He believes in a firm, but fair, discipline.

Interim Chief Headen urges students to use the campus police. “If a student feels unsafe or unease, or simply doesn’t feel comfortable walking in the dark spots on campus, do not feel hesitant to call or ask a nearby officer to escort you on campus,” he said. “I want everyone to know that I have an open door policy and I am here for the university.”

Interim Chief Headen said anyone on campus can contact him at

— By Johna Mitchell