Celebration of Life Planned for Michelle R. Howard-Vital

Monday, August 27, 2018

The UNCW community is saddened to share the news of former Vice Chancellor of Public Service and Continuing Studies Michelle R. Howard-Vital’s passing on Aug. 21.
During her 30-year career, Dr. Howard-Vital held various leadership roles in higher education in Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida. During her 10-year tenure as vice chancellor at UNCW, Dr. Howard-Vital greatly enhanced the university’s regional and community engagement, youth programs, lifelong learning programs and distance education programs.
“Michelle was a kind-hearted person who could relate to and get along with anyone, of any age, of any status, of any background,” said Mark Lanier, assistant to the chancellor. “Her successes here helped open the door and prepare her for an extremely successful career in higher education. Our thoughts and prayers are with Michelle’s family.”
Dr. Howard-Vital also served as interim chancellor at Winston-Salem State University and as associate vice president for academic affairs with the University of North Carolina System.

“Michelle was a great friend and colleague,” said Pat Leonard, vice chancellor of student affairs. “She had a wonderful sense of humor and was always supportive of initiatives to help our students.”

From 2007 to 2014, Dr. Howard-Vital served as the first female president of Cheyney, the oldest historically black college in the country. In 2016, she became provost at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. A year later, she was appointed interim president.

She received numerous awards for her service in higher education, including the Women of Distinction Award by the Philadelphia Business Journal; the Women Cultivating Women Award in honor of Mary McLeod Bethune; the Association for Black Women in Higher Education Award for Leadership; recognition by the University of Chicago as one of its outstanding graduates; and was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, given by the University of Illinois for her contributions to education in the areas of scholarship, teaching, service and administration. She was a member of the American Council on Education; the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; and The Links Inc., a volunteer service organization for women of color.

A Celebration of Life event is planned for Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. in the Madeline Suite. Friends, former colleagues and students are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions to a minority scholarship fund be made in her name to one of the institutions where she worked – the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Chicago State University, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, The University of North Carolina Wilmington Upperman Scholars, Winston-Salem State University, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania or Florida Memorial University.