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Reopening of Michigan’s Only HBCU Is an Opportunity to Elevate Design in the Black Community, Founder Says

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Image credit: Courtesy of Paul Briles/College for Creative Studies

Pensole Academy Founder Dr. D’Wayne Edwards says reopening Detroit’s Lewis School of Business could help turn the city into a hub for design.

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Across the country, applications for enrollment in America’s 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are on the rise. But despite having the largest percentage of African American residents of any major city, Detroit is not home to an HBCU. That wasn’t always true. Now there’s an effort underway to reopen the Lewis College of Business with a focus on design. 

 “I think it’s a great opportunity to elevate the importance of design across the country and across the world.” —Donald L. Tuski, president of the College for Creative Studies 

Listen: Two college administrators discuss the promise of reopening Detroit’s former HBCU

Courtesy of Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design
Courtesy of Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design


Dr. D’Wayne Edwards is the founder of the Pensole Design Academy and is taking the lead on reopening Lewis College. He says Detroit already has a strong design and art culture, which would only be elevated by reopening the Lewis College of Business. 

Overall, Edwards says Black designers make up about 5% of the industry, and that reopening the HBCU offers an opportunity to elevate design in the Black community and in the industry. “Within the Black community, we’re a huge supporter of products and companies that produce products, but yet we’re not really on the back end of it, being employed in these organizations,” he says. 

Edwards says he and administrators are working with the state government to help Lewis College become the only HBCU in the state, before navigating federal designation. He plans for the college to open in March 2022

Donald L. Tuski is the president of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, which is partnering to reopen the Lewis College of Business. Tuski wants to create more opportunities for a broader, more diverse groups of people to enter design. “I think it’s a great opportunity to elevate the importance of design across the country and across the world,” he says. 

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