Henry Ford II Honors Program Welcomes Chardin Claybourne as New Director

Chardin Claybourne, appointed new Honors Program Director. Photo courtesy Ferris State University

The Henry Ford II Honors Program officially welcomed Chardin Claybourne as their new director at the start of the Winter 2024 semester. He will replace Dr. Brad Romans, who was acting as interim director.

Claybourne has been a longtime faculty member at Henry Ford College, acting as the director of the Learning Lab for nine years. He has also been an advisor for various student organizations like Phi Theta Kappa, Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group and the Animation, Comics and Gaming Club.

“Although I’ve enjoyed my time at the Learning Lab, I think nine years is a good run. I’ve been involved in a lot of other things at the college that have made me feel like part of the community,” he shared.

With over 20 years of professional experience in higher education ranging from instructor to administrator, Claybourne says he welcomes the chance to operate in a new capacity while remaining at Henry Ford College.

“When there’s an opportunity to try something different, but still be at the same institution, that’s rare. I feel like I [have an advantage] because I get to keep working where I know the people, I know the culture, and I know about our student population. It will be an honor to work with the highest performing students we have at the college.”

Director Claybourne’s vision for the Henry Ford II Honors Program includes the expansion of membership, educational programming and increasing collaboration between other community colleges and universities.

In a statement addressed to program members, he shares, “I would like to steward a thoughtful and gradual growth of the program. This growth could include the number and diversity of courses offered as well as the number and composition of students enrolled. I’d also like our program to collaborate with honors programs at other Michigan community colleges and increase the number of seamless transfer opportunities to four-year institutions.”

He expands further on the importance of making sure that entry to the program is accessible to students of varying backgrounds and identities.

“Even in my interview, I stated that one of my goals is to grow the honors program, and that growth, I think, should include diversification of the student body. I think that the composition of students in the honors program should mirror the composition of the student body that we have as Henry Ford College students.”

Director Claybourne is an example of that diversification in action. He represents only 3 percent of black men who hold a college faculty position, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. That is why he feels it is important to remain connected to students through his work with the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group.

“Being able to help students who have a similar background to me is really important, and that is something that I’ve done at basically every institution that I’ve worked in. I love the fact that I’m still able to be involved really closely with our black student population,” he says.

Despite having a positive outlook for the future of the program, Claybourne also feels prepared for any issues that may arise.

“It’s great to have the goal of growing the program, but you [also need] money to grow things. I’m up to the challenge, and I’m hopeful that I will have support at the upper levels of our administration for that sort of thing,” he said.

In his new position, Claybourne aims to foster an environment where students continue to feel comfortable approaching him for assistance.

“I hope that I’ve created a persona where people know that I’m open, inviting and welcoming, and know that the program will also be reflective of that. Open, inviting and welcoming for any student who meets the criteria,” he said.

Claybourne continues, “Come see me. I’m here to address any concerns that you have. I have a wealth of knowledge and history. I have a lot of connections at the college and off-campus. I really want to be that resource for our current and prospective students to know that I’m here for them. I’m here to listen. I’m here to help.”

If you are interested in learning more information about the Honors Program, visit hfcc.edu/academics/programs/honors-program or email Director Claybourne at cclaybourne@hfcc.edu.