Whitmer signs bill to reopen Michigan’s first Historically Black College


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills Tuesday that will begin the process off reopening Michigan’s first and only Historically Black College or University (HBCU). 

Formerly called the Lewis College of Business, the school will reopen as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit.

The school is expected to reopen in 2022, on the campus of the College of Creative Studies in Detroit.

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

The Lewis College of Business operated in Detroit from 1939 until 2013. The college originally received its HBCU designation in 1987, and the reopening school is requesting HBCU recognition from the state. 

“Thank you to Governor Whitmer and all of our partners for helping the grandchildren of Violet T. Lewis, Pensole and College for Creative Studies establish an HBCU in the state of Michigan,” Dr. D’Wayne  Edwards, founder of the Pensole Design Academy in Oregon and future president of the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, said. “Our goal is to celebrate Violet T. Lewis’ life’s work she established in the city of Detroit in 1939. Today moves us forward to another major step in continuing her legacy with the support of our founding partners College for Creative Studies, Target, and The Gilbert Family Foundation.” 

House Bill 5447 was sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate, D–Detroit, House Bill 5448 was sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R–Chesterfield, and copies can be found here and here

“Thanks to Gov. Whitmer and bi-partisan legislative support, Detroit now has the first HBCU anywhere to reopen,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “As a predominantly Black city, this helps send a clear message that we are building one city, for everyone with opportunity for everyone.” 

Sen. Marshall Bullock, D-Detroit, said that partnering with D’Wayne Edwards to create a tuition-free academy by reopening the college is a “tremendous opportunity for Detroit and the Black community on so many levels.”

“I’m eager to see the ingenuity that will once again come from students at the PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design, as well as the future they envision for their communities,” Bullock said. 

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