Bowie State University’s new president said her biggest goal is to build partnerships with local businesses and the community to ensure students coming out of the college have the best opportunities to secure good jobs.
Aminta Hawkins Breaux began her the job of overseeing Bowie State’s more than 5,600 undergraduate students on July 1. The University System of Maryland Board of Regents appointed Breaux in April noting her more than 30 years of experience working in higher education, most recently as vice president for advancement at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.
Just a few weeks into her new position, Breaux said she has been “putting on [her] flat shoes” and getting out of the office to ask students, faculty and community members what they like best about Bowie State, and to share her vision for the university.
Breaux said she thinks building relationships between academic, nonprofit and business organizations will be a strength for her as president. She said she has been setting up meetings with business leaders, faculty, the alumni board and other stakeholders to ensure they understand the value the school and its students offer to the community.
Bowie State sits within “a hub of activity” on its Prince George’s County campus, Breaux said, surrounded by government organizations and a robust cybersecurity and engineering business community.
“I see great opportunities there for Bowie State, with our strengths in cyber and [science, technology, engineering and math], all of the research being done in those areas by our students and faculty,” she said. “I want to make sure we are making those strong connections and letting the business community see the strengths we offer in our students, as future employees.”
While she has a long history of working in various academic and administrative roles at institutions such as Drexel University and University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, this is her first post at a historically black institution. Breaux said she wants to honor the history of Bowie State by ensuring the university is meeting the needs of a modern, diverse student body and future workforce.
“This university has a rich history of nurturing students and preparing them to go out into workplaces and onto other education opportunities,” Breaux said. “I want to build on partnerships that can help us do that.”
Breaux also plans to continue to grow Bowie State’s facilities, enrollment and graduation numbers. Under former president Mickey Burnim, the university’s graduation rate grew 27 percent to 1,180 students in 2016 and Bowie State welcomed its largest-ever freshman class of 950 students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The school has also added several buildings to campus recently, including residence facilities and a brand new science, mathematics and nursing building.
Future growth will ideally include higher enrollment, upgrades to the existing academic and residential facilities and new academic offerings, including more online and combination in-class/online hybrid courses, Breaux said.
Breaux said the part of her job she is most looking forward to is getting to serve Bowie State students as they work toward their own future goals.
“I’m excited about the students I’ve met over the last two weeks. They’re bright, they’re motivated, they’re thrilling to be around,” she said. “And it excites me because I am here to ensure they have what they need to succeed and to make sure generations to come can find access and quality at Bowie State.”