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The Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design Is Now Michigan’s First and Only HBCU

Two months ago, D’Wayne Edwards set out to make higher education history, reopening Detroit’s closed Lewis College of Business with a plan to make it the country’s first design-focused Historically Black College or University. This week, his efforts were rewarded, as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC) was named Michigan’s first and only HBCU.

Yesterday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the signing of House Bill 5447 and 5448, which will facilitate the reopening of the Lewis College of Business as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit. This will make it Michigan’s first and only HBCU.

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

The Lewis College of Business, a Detroit-based HBCU founded by the late Violet T. Lewis, closed in 2013. Edwards, the founder of the famed Pensole Design Academy and future president of PLC, became the school’s controlling stockholder. On Oct. 12, the school — which was renamed the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design — proposed draft legislation for state authorization to be recognized as the lone HBCU of Michigan. At the time, Edwards told FN that the school could also become the first-ever reopened HBCU in the country.

In October, the school revealed in a statement that it will work in partnership with College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit to gain legal and legislative approval needed to establish the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, which includes designation as an accredited educational program. Also, an agreement is being drafted to establish a joint venture between CCS and PLC to allow PLC to offer accredited educational programs.

Before it moves to a permanent campus of its own in Detroit, PLC will be located in CCS’s A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.

It will open in March 2022.

“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,” Edwards said in a statement released yesterday. “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.”

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