By RICK NORTON
The Rev. Dr. Michael J. Laney, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Savannah State University, has been named keynote speaker for the 24th annual Scholarship and Mentoring Banquet of …
The Rev. Dr. Michael J. Laney, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Savannah State University, has been named keynote speaker for the 24th annual Scholarship and Mentoring Banquet of 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc.
Laney is no stranger to the Cleveland and Bradley County community, having joined the former Lee College as a communications instructor in 1995, before ascending to the role of Communications and Art Department chair seven years later after the Cleveland-based school had attained university status.
During his years in Cleveland, Laney served multiple roles as a member of 100 BMBC, including the chairmanship of the nonprofit organization’s scholarship and communications programs.
Laney’s return to Cleveland to address his former colleagues and community volunteers on Saturday, March 10, will serve as a homecoming for the respected education and communications advocate.
The banquet will get underway at 6:30 p.m. in the DeVos Recreation Center on the Lee University campus.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Michael Laney as our guest speaker,” said Jonathan Porter, president of “The 100.” “In previous years, he dedicated much time and effort as a member of our organization, and he led the way in many of our successful initiatives.”
Porter described Laney as “… well-spoken and greatly respected by his peers,” and suggested the evening keynote will inspire the organization’s young mentees, as well as for their families and community leaders in attendance.
“He will be delivering a message that is certain to capture the minds, hearts and imagination of anyone, and everyone, in attendance,” Porter said. “We know from years of experience in working with Dr. Laney that he will leave us all with a message whose impact will stay with us for days … and frankly, for weeks, months and years to come.”
The evening’s theme will be “Youth at Risk: Inspiring the Next Generation.”
to serve as emcee
Prisavia Croft, sevneth-grade assistant principal at Cleveland Middle School, will serve as the banquet’s mistress of ceremonies.
“We’re looking for it to be an extremely impactful evening,” Porter said. “We will be spotlighting a few of our mentees who have benefitted from our scholarship program which has been made possible by many patrons and sponsors who have supported the community cause of The 100 for many years.”
Porter pointed to the significance of having Laney and Croft in pivotal roles for the evening. Both are long-time advocates for educational opportunities for local youth.
Through his university roles and his volunteerism with 100 Black Men of Bradley County, Laney has spent years working with young people — whether at the higher education or elementary and secondary levels.
For her part, Croft works with young people daily in her role as CMS assistant principal, Porter said. He also pointed to the longtime partnership between 100 BMBC and the local middle school.
100 BMBC special
mission at CMS
During the school season, 100 BMBC members meet at CMS every Friday morning to provide support sessions and mentoring to a diverse set of young students.
“Through this mentoring session at Cleveland Middle School, we are working with boys and girls of all races and cultures,” Porter stressed. “We believe we are making a difference in the lives of many.”
He pointed out mentors from The 100 have been consistent in their approach to providing encouragement to CMS youngsters, many of whom need this type of adult support.
“What we do is to walk through those school doors and work to achieve one of our organization’s missions; that is, to deliver encouraging thoughts and words to these young middle school students,” Porter noted. “We know we are reaching many with these Friday morning sessions, and are showing them that it’s possible to stay on the right path and become successful in life.”
Citing this theme of helping youth will surface many times during the coming scholarship banquet, Porter stressed many young people just need to be given a chance, and to be heard.
“Just staying in school, and not giving up on education … that will help to make these young people successful,” Porter noted. “Achieving an education in itself is a success. So many of these kids just need encouragement to keep going and not to give up.”
career in education
In many ways, Porter suggested, the evening keynote speaker is an example. He stuck with education, and education has granted him with many opportunities through his career, Porter said.
Laney joined Savannah State University on Jan. 2. Prior to accepting the role of provost at the Georgia school, Laney’s life experiences had included serving as a military officer, professor, scholar and university administrator.
Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black university in Georgia, and the oldest institution of higher education in the historic city of Savannah.
Student enrollment at Savannah State includes 4,645 undergraduates and 155 graduate students.
Prior to joining Savannah State, Laney served as dean and professor over the College of Arts and Sciences at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. He joined the Texas school in 2012, after having served at Lee College and Lee University for 17 years.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts-North Dartmouth, Laney earned a bachelor of arts in political science, with honors. At Michigan State University, he enrolled in the Army Reserve Officer Training Program, and earned a master of arts in television and radio.
Upon graduation, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a second lieutenant and entered active duty. He held command and deputy command responsibilities at the captain and major levels. He retired as a major on Oct. 1, 1995, with 20 years of federal service.
After joining Lee College in 1995, he completed his doctorate in Communications with a cognate in Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, and graduated in December 1998. He was an Appalachian College Association, Mellon Fellow while at UTK in 1997-98.
At Lee, he was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor, and later professor. During his career in education, Laney has had his research published in various journals, and spoken at numerous conferences and forums around the world.
In 2006, he developed the first communications doctoral program for Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, which was exported to 22 African nations.
During his years in Cleveland, Laney earned the NAACP of Bradley County Life Time Achievement Award in 2005; 100 Black Men of Bradley County Mentor of the Year in 2000; and Lee University Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999.
He is married to the former Leonora Denise Suggs of Hampton, Va. They have raised three adult children: ReAnna, Mikaela and James-Michael.
Details about the
The evening will include dinner, light music, a few recognitions and the keynote address by Laney.
Tickets may be obtained by contacting any 100 Black Men of Bradley County member or by messaging the organization on its Facebook page. Ticket and banquet information may be obtained by contacting Porter at 423-596-0740 or Oscar Kelley at 423-413-8768.
Ticket price is $65 per person.
The organization continues to seek corporate sponsors to support the scholarship fund. Sponsor levels include: Platinum, $15,000 and above; Gold, $10,000-$14,999; Silver, $5,000-$9,999; and Bronze, $2,000-$4,999.
Sponsorships at these levels will receive a corporate table, advertising, recognition at the event and a memento from the 100 BMBC. All corporate sponsors above Bronze level will receive eight complimentary banquet tickets. Bronze sponsors will receive four complimentary tickets.
Costs for banquet program ads include: Business card, $100; quarter page, $150; half page, $250; and full page, $500.
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