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B-CU Board of Trustees Holds First Meeting of the Year

The Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) board of trustees gathered today for a meeting and was presented with a generous gift from the estate Veola Nelson Pope, a beloved B-CU alumna. 

Pope's family contingent - including Mrs. Doris R. Reddick who served Miss BCC from 1946-47 - presented a check for $364,519. The gift was left by Pope to augment the Johnny Arthur Nelson Family Endowed Scholarship, a fund that was created in 2005 by her sister, Edna. Pope was a retired teacher from the Hillsborough County School System.

In addition to the check presentation, the board proceedings included strategic planning for retention and enrollment management, as well as affirmation of the institution's financial stability.

With great appreciation, the B-CU board of trustees accepted the resignation of Chairman Larry R. Handfield, who has served as chairman since 2009 and was the first B-CU alumnus to assume the role.

Also, with deep gratitude for his past service, the board accepted the resignation of Dr Randolph Bracy, also a B-CU alumnus.

"Bethune-Cookman University holds a great debt of gratitude to these two alumni," said B-CU trustee Lee E. Rhyant. "Their years of service will have a lasting impact on this institution that we all love."

Rhyant, who served as first vice-chairman, will assume the title of chairman. 

Rhyant, who graduated from B-CU in 1972, recently retired as the executive vice president and general manager for the Marietta, Ga., facility of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company where he is responsible for the 8,000-employee operation, delivering the world's finest military aircraft such as the C-130J Hercules, F-22 stealth fighter, P-3 reconnaissance and C-5B modification programs. 

Rhyant also was involved with Lockheed Martin strategic development, corporate special assignments and metro Atlanta community and government relations.  In 2009, Rhyant was named Manager of the Year by the National Management Association.

He has been widely recognized for his leadership in the Atlanta community, particularly his work mentoring young men to be good fathers, positive role models and citizens.  He was named the 2008 Citizen of the Year by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce/Marietta Daily Journal and 2008 Man of the Year by the Atlanta Tribune for his outstanding community service and dedication to the community.  He was also named a 2007 Man of Influence by the Atlanta Business League.

Rhyant holds an M.B.A. degree from Indiana University.  He also a longtime financial supporter of the university. The new Lee Rhyant Residential Life Center, a state-of-the-art residence hall for honors students, opened last fall.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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