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Wilberforce University partners with Ohio State

The mascots of Wilberforce and Ohio State cheer behind the presidents of the two universities seated at a table.
Alejandro Figueroa
Wilberforce President Elfred Pinkard and Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson signing a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday.

Ohio State University entered into a formal partnership with the state’s only private Historically Black College and University on Tuesday.

The first-of-its kind agreement with Wilberforce University will create an advanced golf course management program.

The agreement pays homage to Wilberforce alum Bill Powell, who created the nation's first Black-owned and racially integrated golf course in 1948 in East Canton. It’s now managed by his children, including Renee Powell, who in 1967, became the second Black woman to compete on the LPGA.

Elfred Anthony Pinkard, Wilbeforce’s president, said this partnership is significant.

“The notion that we would come together in 2022 and look at a partnership that will train our students for golf course management, where African Americans are not usually found, is incredibly historic,” he said.

Pinkard added the agreement between the universities is just the beginning of many potential partnerships with other institutions.

"This is the time when institutions are looking to partner with HBCUs,” Pinkard said. “We're also looking at partnering around our engineering programs. And so this is an incredible opportunity. And I think we're only limited by our imaginations and what we're capable of doing together.”

Kristina Johnson, Ohio State’s president, said the agreement is a step forward toward closing the gap for opportunity in sports.

“It's creating individual opportunities for everyone everywhere to change the history of exclusionary to inclusionary,” Johnson said.

The partnership includes courses in turf grass management, history of golf courses and golf management. The classes will be offered through OSU’s college of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Starting this fall, Wilberforce students will be able to enroll in online classes through OSU and begin earning credits and earn a completed certificate.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.
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Alejandro Figueroa