Historic HBCU Joins Rachel Carson Campus Network

Founded on July 5, 1910 as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race by wealthy Black business leader, Dr. James Shepherd, today North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is the nation’s oldest public HBCU (historically Black college or university) serving some 8,000 students in Durham, North Carolina.

At the end of September, RCC’s President & CEO, Dr. Robert K. Musil, was hosted at NCCU by the Department of Environmental, Earth, and Geospatial Sciences and its Chair, Dr. Carresse Gerald. Musil also met with Assistant Dean Dr. Frederick Johnson and was given a luncheon with faculty and students where he described the RCC Fellowship Program which currently supports 29 RCC Fellows at campuses nationwide.

Dr. Carresse Gerald

Musil explained how NCCU undergraduate and master’s students might apply for the Fellowship to support environmental and justice work they are already carrying out, or develop projects, campaigns, or educational and communications efforts that qualify. Those student environmental leaders who are selected for the 2023-2024 year-long Fellowship attend a free, five-day RCC American Leadership Institute in Washington at the Rockwood Manor Retreat Center, adjacent to the C&O Canal Historic National Park where Rachel Carson explored nature, birded, and found inspiration for her work. RCC Fellows also receive a $2,000 stipend and mentoring throughout the academic year from Dr. Musil, RCC staff, and members of the RCC National Advisory Council.

While on campus at NCCU, Dr. Musil also lectured and taught classes including Introduction to Geology and Toxicology and a graduate seminar in environmental sampling. Musil noted how Rachel Carson drew on toxicological studies and sampling from scientists and environmentalists nationwide, including work at Michigan State by Dr. George Wallace that revealed that it was DDT killing robins, leaving their bodies scattered across campus lawns and quadrangles.

By the end of President Musil’s campus visit at NCCU, nearly 100 students and faculty had signed up for the RCC Campus Network (RCCN), joining thousands of others engaged with the RCC and environmental justice, as North Carolina Central University became the 60th college or university to be included in the RCCN.