George T. French Jr., president of Miles College, a historically Black school, has received the Dr. Eugene D. Stevenson Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award.
French, who led the largest Capital Campaign Fund Drive in the history of the Fairfield, Alabama, school when he helped to develop and expand the campus by raising $42 million, received the award last month during the annual Higher Education Leadership Foundation (HELF) gala at Kentucky State University.
The award, which was presented by Stevenson’s wife, Dr. Rosa Stevenson, is the highest honor of the foundation.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this signal honor and recognition, and I salute my distinguished fellow honorees of other awards,” said French, who has increased allocation toward education and educational support services at the college by more than 11 percent.
The college’s total operating budget increased significantly since 2005 on average of $2 million per year and Miles College has progressively increased student access to educational funding with a recent 54.31 percent increase in Pell Grants awarded.
College officials said French has positioned Miles College as a cornerstone in the 21st century higher education space, incrementally seeking and attracting highly qualified faculty with terminal degrees in their fields to serve its students.
During French’s presidency, Miles College has a more deliberate academic focus, with faculty having secured some of the largest grants in school history, officials said.
Under his leadership, Miles College acquired the North Campus, a 41-acre site that will more than double the size of the existing campus.
The college also has successfully been reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges through 2023. French was the driving force behind a $20 million capital improvement project simultaneously building three new student-oriented facilities on campus.
The college is one of the top three most underrated historically Black colleges and universities, according to HBCU Digest.
“President French is a founder to our organization and is certainly well deserving of this honor for his significant contributions of service in Higher Education, over the last 22 years,” said Dr. Melva Williams, one of the HELF founding members.
“He is respected and knowledgeable regarding Higher Education in general, and HBCUs in particular, and he is the voice you want on your behalf ensuring credibility, accountability and leading conversations regarding accreditation of our institutions,” Williams said.