Southern University System (SUS) President receives Outstanding Executive Leadership Award from the HBCU Affordable Learning Solutions Network

President Ray Belton received the Executive Leadership Award from the HBCU Affordable Learning Solutions Network during the 3rd Annual meeting of the HBCUs Affordable Learning and Quality Online Program held this year in Denver, CO, on April 2-5, 2019. The President/Chancellor of the SUS was recognized for his contribution to the launching of the HBCUs Affordable Learning Solution (AL$) Network in 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and for the pioneering role in enabling the deployment of the Southern University Open Library for Education (  This Award calls upon Belton to further his relentless effort in supporting HBCU institutions and growing of this network targeting 107 institutions in the US and higher education in Africa.

The SUS signed a partnership agreement with the California State University (CSU) to launch a digital library of Open Education Resources for the SU System.

Southern University launched a digital library that serves as a model for HBCUs in America and partnering Higher Education in Africa – The leadership role enabled the system in co-sponsoring the launching of a HBCUs Summit on Open Education
(See Flyer –

This partnership initiated by Professor Moustapha Diack, led to the launching of an Affordable Learning Solutions, the Southern University Open Library (SUOL) for (4) Education (Ed) []. The SUS of Louisiana is the first LA Higher Education System and the first HBCU in America to have deployed an OER Digital Library for Education. The Library Holdings are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, Open textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.
(see SUBR SUOL Launch here:

Dr. Sharron Herron-Williams, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at SUSLA – receiving President Belton Award from Prof. Moustapha Diack (SUS), HBCU Summit Chair – Dr. Gerry Hanley (CSU) HBCU Summit Co-Chair – Dr. Robbie Melton (Tennessee State) HBCU Summit Chair

The HBCU Summit was well attended by the SU System with eLearning Directors and leadership from SUSLA, SUNO and SUBR – Photo: Mary Adewunmi (SUBR/SMED); Shatiqua Wilson (SUNO Director Library), Tracy Barley (SUBR eLearning Director); Herron-Williams, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at SUSLA; Veronica McEachin (SUSLA Director eLearning); Gwendolyn Tennell (SUSLA – eLearning Unit)

Picture – Ms. Mary Adewunmi, Doctoral student with the SUBR SMED Program, College of Sciences and Engineering. Three research papers focusing on Innovations in OER were presented by the SU System, two with international partnership with the Virtual University of the Republic of Senegal, West Africa – [ RESEARCH PAPERS: (1) Smart Approach to Professional Development (View the Paper) – (2) Making Google G-Suite Work for Online Course Management (View the Paper) – (3) Designing OER-Based Multi-Media Modular eBooks (View the Paper)

HBCU Summit 2019 Pre-conference: Addressing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion using OER 

The HBCUs Summit pre-conference workshop was invitation only. Program included an overview of the AL$ program, the Hewlett Foundations vision on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness and OER, how to leverage Cal State University-MERLOT’s services, HBCUs sharing their lessons learned on implementing their own AL$ program, and activities for workshop participants to begin planning their strategies for adopting and customizing an AL$ program for their campus.  The afternoon of the pre-conference included a presentation and hands-on activities with “Apple’s Everyone Can Code Program”.

Participant to the invitation- Only pre-conference on DEI with grant from the Hewlett Foundation – Presentations from Hewlett Foundation and Apple contribution from the Hewlett Foundation and Apple Inc.
(See Summit Pre-conference here:

Open Education Resources and the SU System

Open Education Resources (OER) include full courses, course materials, modules, Open textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge and college affordability. It is now accepted that one of the natural consequences of widespread OER adoption will be an increase in students’ educational access and success. The average U.S. college student now spending $1,600 each year on textbooks and other course materials on top of tuition, it is easy to see how those costs are hindering lower income students from attending college. A 2014 study by the Student Public Interest Research Group showed that a majority of college students actually base course selection decisions on textbook prices and avoid courses with expensive content. Other students simply do not purchase required textbooks or show up on the first day of class without a textbook because the cheaper used version they found online is still at the online merchant’s warehouse. Amazingly, the cost of textbooks now sometimes exceeds the cost of tuition, particularly at the community colleges that have traditionally provided a lower-cost alternative. It is important to note that the Southern University Shreveport (SUSLA) is current one of the lead institutions in the State of Louisiana for designing and delivering online programs that use exclusively OER.

(See Here for innovation Grant:

Also, the System the Southern University System received a MERLOT Stewardship Award at the INNOVATE 2017 International Conference, co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and the Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) global organization, April 5-7, 2017 in New Orleans. The SU System was recognized for its leadership role in launching the partnership with the California State University MERLOT, an Affordable Learning Solution (AL$) portal, and the Southern University Open Library for Education (SUOL4Ed) on April 19, 2016. (Learn more about the recognition here:

Open Education Resources and Louisiana

If you were a student enrolled in one of Louisiana’s postsecondary education institutions in AY 2016-2017, the average cost that you were expected to incur for textbooks and materials was $1,250  If you use the average six-year graduation rate, the total cost of textbooks for one student in Louisiana equals $15,000 (12 semesters X $1,250).  A 2015 analysis of the Bureau of Labor Consumer Price Index (CPI) data found that textbook prices rose by 1,041% from 1977 to 2015, over three times the rate of inflation (308%) over the same time period (Popken, 2015). An independent analysis of the CPI data found that textbook price increases outpaced the overall cost of college tuition during that same period.  It is not surprising that according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Top Ten Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2017, affordability ranked second behind state funding of higher education as the most significant issues facing higher education in the United States.

The amount of money that students must pay at the time of enrollment can often exhaust a student’s resources. A student with minimal or few remaining resources must make difficult decisions, and many times, end up compromising on some of the additional costs of attendance.  Given the escalating costs of textbooks, students are forced to compromise how they handle textbook requirements for classes. The academic impact of that cost is that many students: 1) purchase an older edition of the textbook that may not contain the most current information on the subject 2) delay purchasing the textbook or 3) never purchase the textbook. According to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, the cost barrier kept 2.4 million low and moderate-income college-qualified high school graduates from completing college in the previous decade (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, 2006).

In Louisiana, over the last decade, public higher education has had little alternative but to increase tuition by approximately 100% in response to state budget cuts of over $700 million.  The additional burden placed on students is affecting opportunity and access to higher education for Louisiana’s citizens, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In its response, Act 619 of the 2016 Louisiana Legislature, the Board of Regents addressed college affordability as a growing concern for the State. The Board recognized the increasing textbook costs to students by endorsing the concept of Affordable Learning Louisiana (ALL), a statewide initiative to help defray this increasing financial burden on students. It is noteworthy that the Louisiana legislative is currently considering a signing of an Affordable Learning Solution Bill.

(Download the Draft Bill Here –


Official Publication of the Southern University System
Office of Online Learning Services (OOLS)
Moustapha Diack – System Associate Vice President
Ms. Crystal Taylor – Coordinator OOLS and Grant



INNOVATE 2019: Professor Moustapha Diack, SUS Associate V. P. Online Learning Services (SUS OLS) with Kathleen S. Ives, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Online Learning Consortium (OLC)



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