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Stateside Podcast: Reopening Michigan's only HBCU

Photo of the historic brick building of Lewis College of Business on a grey day.
"File:The Lewis College of Business, Detroit, Michigan.jpg" by Marlene Ann Brill is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The historically Black college, Lewis College of Business, plans to reopen in Detroit under a new name and mission.

The college will be located in the College for Creative Studies’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education until its permanent home in Detroit is selected and developed, according to a press release.

Now called the PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design, the school will offer programs in design, sustainability, business and STEM in collaboration with the College for Creative Studies. There will also be a special focus on shoe design.

“The diversity of thought is what creates innovation. I really do hope what we're doing with (The College for Creative Studies) inspires other colleges in states with HBCUs to do the same,” D’Wayne Edwards said, who is the founder of PENSOLE Design Academy, a shoe design school in Portland, Oregon.

He is also the controlling stockholder of the previously closed Detroit-based HBCU, Lewis College of Business. He founded PENSOLE Design Academy with the lack of Black and brown designers in the industry in mind. Edwards said he is inspired by the college’s founder, Violet T. Lewis.

“We just want to make sure we do right by Violet, and her family and the legacy that Lewis College created, we want to continue it and then elevate it even further and bring Violet back to life,” Edwards said.

The PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design will request authorization from the Michigan Department of Education to operate as an educational corporation.

This will be the only historically Black college operating in Michigan. Edwards said the majority of the cost to attend will be free. Enrollment will begin in December and the college will open in March 2022.

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Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.