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NCCU Wins Big at Annual HBCU Digest Awards


North Carolina Central University (NCCU) brought home top honors in three categories at the annual HBCU Awards ceremony presented by HBCU Digest, which recognizes excellence at the nation’s more than 100 historically black colleges and universities.

NCCU received the top award for Best Research Center based on the Center for Health Disparities, a Research Center in Minority Institutions housed in the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI).

The university’s 2018-2019 men’s basketball team was recognized as Men’s Team of the Year. Denzel Goodlin, a May 2019 graduate, also earned first-place notice as HBCU Male Student of the Year.

"These awards by HBCU Digest underscore the excellent work that is taking place at North Carolina Central University," said NCCU Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye. "It also highlights the top-notch performance of our students, staff and faculty in the classroom and in the areas of research and athletics."

The JLC-BRRI conducts multidisciplinary and inter-institutional research focused on health issues that disproportionately affect minority and underserved populations. The institute has also trained hundreds of students to enter the biotechnology and biomedical research fields.

In 2017, the institute received a $16.3 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to conduct three new biomedical and behavioral inquiries, along with health disparities research pilot projects. The projects each involve robust mentoring, development of core facilities and leveraging of resources and partnerships with community-based organizations and neighboring institutions in the Research Triangle area. The center also promotes a collaborative and career-enhancing environment for postdoctoral trainees and NCCU faculty.

The grant is the largest received by the university, excluding Title III funding, and the largest awarded to a single principal investigator.

The 2018-2019 Men’s Basketball team made school history in 2019 as the first team to clinch three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. They are also the first team to win three consecutive MEAC Men’s Basketball Championship titles since N.C. A&T State University won seven on the bounce from 1982 to 1988.

Goodlin, a Woodbridge, Va., native, was lauded for consistent pursuit of academic excellence and service. He has taken advantage of many national opportunities as an NCCU student, such as being named an All-Star by the 2017 The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities?and a McNair Scholar.

As a junior, Goodlin participated in the 2018 HBCU National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where he was named best speaker for NCCU’s team. He also spent his 2017 summer break at Princeton University with the W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Institute serving as a resident counselor and mentor. He was also involved in several campus organizations, including, the Centennial Scholars Program, University Honors Program, and 100 Black Men, in addition to serving as president of the Gamma Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He also was elected to serve as sophomore class president. 

Today, Goodlin is a first-year graduate student at Yale Divinity School with the intention of pursuing a doctoral degree in homiletics or theology.

The HBCU Digest awards program also recognized NCCU as a finalist in eight other categories:

  • Alumnus of the Year, The Rev. William J. Barber, ’85, pastor, social justice advocate and Repairers of the Breach founder
  • Best Alumni Publication, NCCU Now
  • Best Marching Band, Sound Machine
  • Best Student Government Association, 2018-2019 NCCU Student Government Association
  • Female Student of the Year, Bettylenah Njaramba,’19, elementary education major and 2018-2019 University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments president
  • Male Athlete of the Year, Raasean Davis, ’19, NCCU Men’s Basketball center
  • Male Coach of the Year, D. Curtis Lawson, NCCU Men’s Tennis
  • Male Faculty of the Year, Jonathan Livingston, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and 2019 UNC Board of Governor’s Award for Teaching in Excellence recipient

A complete list of finalists is available here.

The HBCU Awards were presented August 2, in Baltimore. A panel of former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students, journalists and former award winners served as judges.


Published: Thursday, August 15, 2019
by Director of Marketing and Communications, Quiana M Shepard
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