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NSU and City of Norfolk Host Forum on Community Challenges

Nnorfolk police chief and community forumorfolk State University, the state’s largest Historically Black College and University, and the City of Norfolk hosted a forum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30, in the Dorothy B. Brothers Auditorium in partnership with Mayor Kenneth Alexander of Norfolk. 

The citywide forum addressed the challenges facing the City of Norfolk and how Norfolk State University could partner with the city to address the challenges of violence, poverty, food deserts, the digital divide, community redevelopment and other issues by utilizing the expertise, research capacity, and service mission of NSU. The event provided students and community members with an opportunity to engage thought leaders from the university and the city. Moreover, NSU helped lead this important dialogue about solutions to social and economic challenges. 

The forum panel attendees included the following community and thought leaders: 

  • Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D. 
  • City of Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander, Ph.D. 
  • City of Norfolk Chief of Police Larry D. Boone 
  • City of Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi 
  • Sustain Equity Group Founder, President, and CEO Kayla Hicks 
  • Norfolk State University Interim Chief of Police Brian Covington 
  • Norfolk State University Sociology Professor Robert Perkins, Ph.D. 
  • Norfolk State University Social Work Professor Sharon Alston, Ph.D. 
  • Norfolk State University Student Government Association President Jaylin Drewry 

The community discussion was moderated by Eric W. Claville, JD, MLIS, Norfolk State University’s Director of the Center for African American Public Policy.  

The event was covered by local media and made available for streaming through the courtesy of WTKR at

At the end of the evening, Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston summarized the purpose of the citywide community forum. 

“Without vision, people will perish, but without hope, there is no cure,” President Adams-Gaston said. “We, Norfolk State University, can be that beacon of hope in the outreach that we do with individuals so that we give them a way to change and shape their lives.” 

She then addressed the many challenges faced by the City of Norfolk brought up during the forum and described how the forum was a start toward meeting those challenges through a city/university partnership. 

“We will be the model for (what) cities and higher education should do together,” President Adams-Gaston said. “We’ll be able to describe it, assess it, quantify it, and have it replicated across the nation and across the world because what we do matters.” 

Mayor Kenny Alexander of the City of Norfolk echoed those sentiments in his follow-up statement. 

“I’m so happy that Norfolk State University (will) step up and help gather this data, analyze and evaluate the data, and then offer real solutions that government, state and local government, can hopefully fund the resources (with) the money to get at the root causes of these problems,” Mayor Alexander said. “The research, scholar-practitioners are in place. Public service is in place. Now is the time to go to work.” 

For more information about the event, contact NSU’s Office of Media Relations. 

Photos from the event can be viewed on Flickr at