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Michigan’s First And Only HBCU Reestablished After Governor Signs New Bill Into Law

Gov. Whitmer announced Tuesday the signing of House Bill 5447 and 5448 to reopen Michigan’s first and only HBCU, the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC), previously known as the Lewis College of Business.

In collaboration with the College for Creative Studies (CCS), a private art and design school in Detroit, and a partner in the venture, the institute will educate aspiring Black designers, engineers, and business leaders. 

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

Founded by the late Violet T. Lewis in 1928, The Lewis College of Business was established as a secretarial school for Black women and relocated to Detroit in 1939. The school lost its accreditation as an HBCU in 2007 and closed in 2013.

“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,” Dr. Edwards said. “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.”

In October, Dr. Edwards revealed his plans to reopen Lewis College of Business under its new name to establish the first design-focused HBCU. The reopened college, located in the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education at CCS —until it finds its permanent Detroit campus —will open in March 2022.

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