Ewers named to trustee board at historic HBCU
Dr. James B. Ewers Jr., a native of Winston-Salem and long-time educator, was recently named to the board of trustees at Morris Brown College. Ewers will join a dedicated staff that is striving to bring the school back to its once storied past.
Ewers brings with him over 40 years of experience working at the secondary and collegiate level. Over the years, he has developed countless programs for traditional and non-traditional students.
“I think there are 107 HBCUs and to be a member of the board of trustees of one of them leaves me humbled,” said Ewers. “These board positions are such important positions in the life of the college.
“There are not a lot of times that I am speechless because I don’t have a word limit, I just go on and on and on. But after I received the call and the email, I was speechless,” he said. “I shared it with my wife and all I could do was have her look at the email, that’s all I could do. I couldn’t talk because I was so excited about it.
“I just look forward to making a contribution, I look forward to being a colleague, and look forward to seeing Morris Brown College go forward in meaningful ways, athletically and academically.”
Ewers received his B.A. degree in political science from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. He was a standout player on the tennis team and still holds records at the university to this day. He is also a member of the university’s Hall of Fame. Ewers received his master’s degree in education from Catholic University in Washington,D.C., and his Ed.D. degree in education from the University of Massachusetts.
The opportunity for the position on the board came from fellow Morris Brown board member and long-time friend Dr. Gregory Eason. They would routinely speak about higher education and several months ago Eason nominated Ewers.
“When he said that, I am thinking that would be quite an honor just to be nominated,” said Ewers. “You start sitting down in your quiet moments and quiet times and I started thinking, what if. It just goes to show that if you work hard, if you have ethics, and you have a strong underpinning of faith and you do your best every day, then maybe, just maybe, some good things will happen.”
Ewers stated he approached the possibility of obtaining the position similarly to how he approached sports when he played competitively. He just asked God to let him do his best and let the chips fall where they may.
With several decades of experience in higher education, Ewers brings a wealth of knowledge with him to Morris Brown to assist him in the position.
“I think because I have been in board meetings before as a vice president and because I know some of the questions that need to be asked and I know some of the answers, and I believe that my experiences in terms of just developing programs, developing events, giving suggestions, giving ideas, I think will help because of the background I have,” he said.
“I have a student affairs background that incorporates and encompasses two critical areas and that is admissions and financial aid. Those two are important parts of any college’s livelihood. You have to recruit students and you have to prepare some financial aid packages that will align with the college’s resources, align with the student’s academic abilities, and I believe those experiences I’ve had.”
Ewers went on to speak about his in-depth knowledge of admissions and how to market the school to a potential student. He said admissions is “simply marketing higher education” and there is so much competition out there, so you have to find a way to make your school stand out among the other choices. He will bring all of those tools and knowledge accumulated from private and public institutions of higher learning to Morris Brown.
“I believe that those experiences in the private sector and I combine those with the public sector schools that I have been involved in, I think will give a mix and I think I can give a good accounting,” he stated.
A few years back, Morris Brown fell on hard times due to an embezzlement and fraud scandal that caused the school to lose their accreditation. The student population dipped dramatically because they were not able to offer financial aid during those years. As of 2021, their accreditation was approved and they can now receive federal financial aid. Ewers is eager to bring the school back to their glory days.
“The excitement that I have about new possibilities and new ways of thinking and having a part in the reenergizing of Morris Brown College is something that from the very day I found out I was going to be a part of the board, has been foremost in my mind,” he said.
“It would be just a wonderful feeling, and I mean I can’t even describe that type of feeling, but when it happens, I know it’s going to happen. It’s not if, it’s simply when. I think … that it is going to come much sooner than much later,” Ewers said about helping turn around the fortunes of the college.