Michigan’s only HBCU revived by new laws, should reopen in 2022

Historically Black college reestablishes as Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design

DETROIT – Michigan’s first and only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is set to reopen next year after closing for nearly a decade.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed two bills into law that coordinate the reopening of the Lewis College of Business as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design. The original Lewis College of Business operated out of Detroit from 1939 to 2013, after relocating from Indianapolis.

Led by prominent business owner and designer Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, a group announced earlier in October its plans to reopen the Detroit school, which would make it the first HBCU in the country to ever reopen. The project is supported by a partnership between Edwards, the Lewis Family, the city of Detroit, Target, the College for Creative Studies and the Gilbert Family Foundation.

Edwards is the founder of the Pensole Design Academy in Portland, Oregon, and has designed shoes for brands like Asics, New Balance, Nike and Air Jordan. His goal was to reopen the Detroit school as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design as the first-ever design-focused HBCU.

The new school is expected to open next year on the campus of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Edwards said in October that he hopes to begin classes on Detroit Day, which is March 13.

“The first session will be will be a celebration of Detroit brands,” Edwards said. “I think it’s important for us to understand our history, before we start to bring other people to the party. So, we want to ground everything that we do initially into Detroit, and then we’ll start bringing our other partners that are from other parts of the country to Detroit.”

Officials announced Tuesday that they are currently requesting HBCU recognition from the state for the reopening school. Edwards previously said that the hope is to operate as a tuition-free institution in an effort to be more accessible to low-income students and families.

“Thanks to Gov. Whitmer and bipartisan legislative support, Detroit now has the first HBCU anywhere to reopen,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday. “As a predominantly Black city, this helps send a clear message that we are building one city for everyone with opportunity for everyone.”

Previously: Plans announced to reopen Detroit’s historically Black college with new mission

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.