Whitmer signs bills to reopen Michigan's only HBCU in 2022

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Dr. D’Wayne Edwards in front of the historic Lewis College of Business. - PENSOLE/ INSTAGRAM
  • PENSOLE/ Instagram
  • Dr. D’Wayne Edwards in front of the historic Lewis College of Business.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed two bills on Tuesday to re-establish the state’s first and only Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

The former Lewis College of Business is slated to reopen as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in 2022. It was originally founded in Indianapolis in 1928 before relocating to Detroit in 1939 where it operated until closing in 2013.



A successful revival of the school will make it the first HBCU to close and reopen in the country. Plans for the school’s reopening were announced several months ago, but House Bill 5477 and 5448 helped solidify that plan into reality.

The school will operate on the College for Creative Studies campus in Detroit and plans to offer free tuition for Black designers, creatives, and future business leaders.



“I want to thank Governor Whitmer for taking action to support this pipeline of underserved talent alongside the countless partners who have stood up to make this a reality,” CCS president Don Tuski said in a press release. “We can create generations of equitable access to the skills that will lead to good-paying jobs and create products and services that can define the future.”

A partnership between CCS, The Gilbert Family Foundation, Target, and future president of the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, will fund the school’s free tuition model.

Edwards is the founder of the Pensole Design Academy in Portland, Oregon. He has opened several schools across the country and the world including a Pensole Kolding Design School in Demark. He has also designed shoes for notable brands like Air Jordan and Nike.

Edwards plans to officially start classes on March 13, aka Detroit Day.

Of course, the only HBCU in Michigan is in Detroit, the Blackest big city in the country and the only one in the US to be recognized as a UNESCO City of Design.

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