A new college at Drake University will offer two-year associate degrees in multiple disciplines in an effort to expand access to higher education in central Iowa.
John Dee Bright College will aim to welcome “a diverse range of students who often have not seen Drake as their potential college,” Drake President Marty Martin said Tuesday. The college is named after Johnny Bright, a 1952 Drake graduate and soccer superstar.
When it opens in fall 2021, Drake will become one of relatively little private universities nationwide to offer an associate degree. The two study streams offered are Integrated Arts, Sciences and Humanities as well as Business, Organizational and Professional Studies.
It’s the first new college to open in Drake in more than 60 years, Martin said.
Annual tuition for the associate program will be $18,500, a significant break from the 2021-2022 annual tuition of $45,700 for full-time undergraduates earning a bachelor’s degree at Drake.
In comparison, tuition for a full-time student at Des Moines Area Community is around $4,700 per year. Tuition and annual fees for in-state students at four-year Regents universities in Iowa range from $8,938 to $9,830.
Drake will help prospective students access state and federal grants and other financial aid, the school said in a press release.
Craig Owens, professor of English and director of the Drake’s Center for Teaching Excellence, will serve as dean.
“Students at John Dee Bright College will have access to the same resources as students in our four-year programs,” said Owens, who has taught at Drake since 2003. “They will work closely with their professors to develop professional and academic skills. which will lead them into their professions and last a lifetime.
Students will attend a three-hour block of classes four times a week, giving them a consistent schedule, with large blocks of time off in case they have part-time or full-time jobs or other obligations, a Owens said.
He expected the inaugural class to include a cohort of no more than 50 students, but said his team would find a way to accommodate multiple cohorts if more people applied.
“What they won’t find out is that they’re sitting in a lecture hall with 150 or 200 students, or they’re going to get lost in the crowd,” he said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”
Bright’s Legacy at Drake
The name of the college honors Bright, the football great who earned a degree in education at Drake and became an educator and principal in Canada. Also namesake of Johnny Bright Field at Drake Stadium, he died in 1983 at the age of 53.
Bright, who was black, was the Bulldogs’ standout halfback when he was targeted in a series of onfield assaults. The attacks derailed his bid for the Heisman Trophy – college football’s highest honour, for which he was among the first black frontrunners.
In October 1951, the undefeated Bulldogs traveled to Stillwater to face the Oklahoma A&M Aggies, now the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Bright was leading the nation in all-out attack for a third consecutive year when Wilbanks Smith of the Aggies targeted him early in the game with dirty plays, knocking him out three times in the first seven minutes of play and breaking his jaw.
Bright threw for a 61-yard touchdown shortly after the smashing hit, but was eventually taken out of the game by the coaches.
Two photographers from the Des Moines Register captured the attack in a series of six photos which made headlines the next day, drawing national attention to the racist treatment of black athletes. Don Ultang and John Robinson of The Register won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Photography for the series.
Bright had a tooth removed so he could be fed through a straw, and with his jaw shut he played again two weeks later. He placed fifth in the Heisman vote that year.
He was a first-round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles and would have been the Eagles’ first black player, but chose to join the Canadian Football League ‘due to the likelihood of racist retaliation’ in the United States, the statement said. release from Drake. Bright played 13 seasons in the CFL, retiring as the league’s all-time leading rusher, and was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1970.
“Naming Bright College after Johnny honors his personal and professional qualities – the very qualities that Bright College will instill in its learners: courage, resilience, dedication, drive, and civic and professional engagement,” Martin said.
No one faced penalties for the attacks, dubbed “The Johnny Bright Incidentprompting Drake to quit the Missouri Valley Conference. But the incident is credited with advancing a number of safety precautions within the NCAA, including rules around illegal blocking and the requirement for helmets with face shields.
“There’s no way it wasn’t motivated by race,” Bright told the Register in 1980. College athletics have improved. This caused the NCAA to take a hard look and clean up some things that were wrong.
Family pays tribute to Bright as ‘pioneer’ in education
Deanie Bright-Johnson is the eldest of Bright’s three daughters, one of whom is deceased. She said residents of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada still remember her father’s ability to motivate others as a teacher, football coach and principal of the Edmonton Public Schools.
“My dad was all about education,” said Bright-Johnson, 66, who lives in her father’s hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and traveled to Des Moines for the ‘announcement. “In Edmonton, there are so many people there who will still say to my sister, ‘Because of your dad, who encouraged me and told me I could do this, look at what I’m doing today. today.'”
Bright’s two granddaughters, Bre Johnson, 29, and Maura Johnson, 36, also came to Des Moines. They each highlighted the academic achievement of their grandfather, who in turn made education a priority for their entire family.
Black students in particular will benefit from seeing themselves reflected in Bright’s academic legacy at Drake, said Bre Johnson, who also lives in Fort Wayne and plans to launch her own fashion label.
“You can’t want to be if you’ve never seen it before,” she said. “It’s really great to have this visibility, especially linked to my grandfather.”
Maura Johnson, who works as a vice president at Wells Fargo in Philadelphia, said she believes the school will inspire hope in young people who are questioning their life plans.
“The two-year college concept brings hope to people who didn’t think it was possible to go to college,” she said. “Education is really a pipeline and a lifeline to open your eyes to new experiences.”
Wearing a Bulldogs-branded face mask, Bright-Johnson said she was touched to see the college honor her late father.
In three years, she looks forward to returning to Des Moines to meet John Dee Bright College’s first class of graduates.
“I’m going to do everything I can to come see this first graduation.”
Shelby Fleig covers the Des Moines city government for the registry. Join her at [email protected] or 515-214-8933.
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