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Art Brooks Retiring after Serving the College and Community for 19 Years

He Describes Himself as a 'Life Coach' for Students of Color

May 26, 2012

Sigrid Solomon, vice president for student affairs, presents Art Brooks with the Black Student Initiative's Award of Appreciation at a campus reception held in his honor.

Sigrid Solomon, vice president for student affairs, presents Art Brooks with the Black Student Initiative's Award of Appreciation at a campus reception held in his honor.

A number of descriptors come to mind when speaking about Art Brooks’ impact on Wilmington College and the local community over the past 19 years: teacher, mentor, advocate, administrator, innovator, friend, disciple for diversity, practitioner of tough love.

Perhaps Brooks himself summed it up best when he described himself simply as a “life coach” for students of color at WC and African-American youth throughout the community.

“I’m trying to prepare them for life,” he said.

Brooks, director of multicultural affairs at the College since 1993, is retiring at the end of June. His campus colleagues had an opportunity to wish him well at a reception held earlier this spring.
Brooks recalled coming to Wilmington nearly two decades ago after already having worked in education for some 27 years, including a dozen at other colleges.

He thanked members of the faculty and staff that helped provide a “comfortable campus climate” for students of color, but the main order of business was his colleagues expressing appreciation for Brooks and recognizing his success in increasing the recruitment, retention and graduation of students of color.

President Jim Reynolds said Brooks’ legacy at WC is the many lives he’s touched.

“Art’s made a real difference in the lives of our students and in the community,” Reynolds said. “I will miss him deeply.”

The Black Student Initiative organization presented him with an appreciation award while Chip Murdock, associate director of admission and director of multicultural recruiting, emphasized Brooks’ positive role not only on campus, but also as a College liaison with the community.

“Art embraces all people and exemplifies the ‘multi’ in multicultural,” he said.

The Peer Mentoring program is an especially successful one on which Brooks’ fingerprints can be found, as it has had a positive effect on recruitment, retention and graduation. It pairs successful students of color with new first-year students in an effort to help them open some doors and develop successful academic and social strategies.

“It’s gratifying to have seen those that were originally mentored become peer mentors and then graduates and ultimately successful alumni,” he said.

He also has led the College’s programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Brooks served on the YMCA and Clinton County Mental Health boards and received the Red Cross Heroes award and was selected as a Leadership Clinton Humanitarian of the Year.

He was a founder of Hot Hoops in 1995 and provided leadership in developing a program designed to provide positive role models for local African-American youth within the context of basketball, guest presentations and other constructive activities.

Speaking of Hot Hoops, the Art Brooks Leadership and Citizenship Scholarship was established in Brooks’ honor and, once fully funded, will be awarded to Hot Hoops participants. Gifts to the scholarship can be made in care of Harvest of Gold, which administers the fund.

Also, Brooks will be featured at the annual Hot Hoops Awards Banquet June 10, at 4:30 p.m., at WC’s Top of Pyle Center. Hot Hoops alumni are especially encouraged to attend.

Those interested in attending the banquet or contributing to the scholarship should contact Harvest of Gold at (937) 382-8669.

As Brooks prepared to pass the torch of leadership as a “life coach,” he encouraged others to continue taking a personal interest in the wellbeing of students.

“You don’t have to be a teacher or counselor to mentor a student — I’ve seen so many on this campus serve as mentors,” he said. “It’s the entire campus’ responsibility to recruit and retain.

“I tried to do my part to help students and I appreciate all the love you gave in return.”

Brooks’ retirement plans are inconclusive but he hinted that the warmer winters normally found in Virginia offer an enticing invitation.