By Budd McLaughlin
The Huntsville Times
Huntsville, AL (BlackNews.com) — It won’t be long before there’s a new flag joining the others at the entrance to Oakwood University. Only this flag will be unlike any that will fly at any other university in the state.
Or any other Historically Black College or University anywhere.
To those in the local business community, though, it will be familiar.
You see, the Seventh-day Adventist school has received ISO 9001 certification.
“This kind of makes us a pioneer,” said Tim Allston, Oakwood’s director of public relations.
Indeed it does.
In spite of all the government contracts won by the likes of UAH, Alabama A&M, Auburn and Alabama, Oakwood University is the first college or university in the state ISO registered.
Ironically, Auburn’s Technical Center and Alabama A&M help companies gain ISO certification, but they don’t have the certification themselves.
“This is exciting for us,” said Marcia Burnette, Oakwood’s assistant vice president for development. “We were the first HBCU accepted into NASA’s mentor-protÃ©gÃ© program.
“At that time, our objective was to get ISO 9001 certified.”
Oakwood is also in the mentor-protÃ©gÃ© program with SAIC, and she said leading the move to certification was program consultant Dr. Jay Billings.
“He helped us get through this,” she said. “He brought this up years ago and worked with us off an on for it.”
So, what exactly is ISO 9001?
It is an internationally recognized standard for the quality management of businesses.
“It makes us eligible to become a prime contractor for grants, not a sub,” Burnette said. “We can actually go and bid ourselves.”
She said it also provides an enhanced corporate imaging and marketing, assures better documentation and is a proven program for corrective and preventive actions.
And, according to Allston, it’s no coincidence the school pursued the certification under school president Dr. Leslie Pollard, who has a master’s in business administration.
“He is our first president with an MBA and understands and leads us to pursue such business-world benchmarks ,” he said. “His wife, Dr. Prudence Pollard, is a professor of management in our business department and an examiner in the Alabama Productivity Center at the University of Alabama.”
And with the designation, also comes added pressure, Allston said.
“It puts a healthy pressure on us to keep up the registration,” he said. “We can take it and apply it to other areas of campus, to let our students and faculty know we can be academic and spiritual and navigate those worlds successfully. “ISO designation is for what we’ve done and, to keep the honor, we have to continue to work.” In the meantime, Burnette will be keeping her eye out for the flag to arrive.
“I just got an email that said, ‘Please have certificate (and flag) expedited immediately,’ ” she said. “We’re excited about the flag.
“Send us the (certificate and flag), and we can blast it all over the place.”
Photo Caption: Oakwood University President Dr. Leslie Pollard has a master’s in business administration.
Photo Credit: The Huntsville Times/Glenn Baeske