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Official Bennett College seal
|Motto||"Educating and Celebrating Women Since 1873"|
|Established||August 1, 1873 and reorganized as an all-female institution in 1926|
|Type||Private Historically Black Liberal Arts College for Women|
|Religious affiliation||United Methodist Church|
|Location||Greensboro, North Carolina, United States|
|Former names||Bennett School, Bennett Seminary|
|Colors||Royal Blue and White|
|Athletics||United States Collegiate Athletic Association USCAA|
|Sports||Basketball Golf Softball Swimming Soccer Fitness|
|Affiliations||United Negro College Fund|
Bennett College Historic District
|Location||Roughy bounded by E. Washington, Bennett and Gorrell Sts., Greensboro, North Carolina|
|Architectural style||Gothic, Other, Georgian Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||92000179|
|Added to NRHP||April 3, 1992|
Bennett College is a private four-year historically black liberal arts college for women. Located in Greensboro, NC, it was founded in 1873 as a normal school educating newly emancipated slaves. It became a women's college in 1926 and is one of only two historically black colleges that enroll women only. Today it serves roughly 780 undergraduate students.
Bennett College was founded August 1, 1873 as a normal school for seventy African American men and women (former slaves). The school's founder Albion W. Tourgee was an activist in the second half of the 19th century who championed the cause of racial equality contributed greatly to the colleges' inception. The school held its inaugural classes in the basement of Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church North (now St. Matthew's United Methodist) in Greensboro. Bennett as a coeducational school at the time (offered both high school and college level courses), and remained so until 1926. The year after its founding, the school became sponsored by the Freedman's Aid Society and Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bennett remained under the Freedman's Aid Society for 50 years. In 1878, newly emancipated slaves purchased the land which the colleges stands today. Hearing of what was being done, New York businessman Lyman Bennett provided $10,000 in funding to build a permanent campus. Bennett died soon thereafter, and the school was named Bennett Seminary and a bell was created in his honor. Hearing of Bennett's philanthropy his coworkers continued his mission by providing the bell for the school.
In 1888, Bennett Seminary elected its first African-American president, the Reverend Charles Grandison. Grandison spearheaded a successful drive to have the school chartered as a four-year college in 1889. As to which, two of the first African American bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church were graduates of the college. One being bishop Robert Elijah Jones an 1895 graduate and brother of future president David Dallas Jones. Under the direction of Reverend Grandison, and the direction of the president who followed him (Jordan Chavis), Bennett College grew from 11 undergraduate students to a total of 251 undergraduates by 1905. The enrollment leveled out in the 1910s at roughly 300. In 1916, a survey taken by the Phelps-Stokes Foundation recommended Bennett College be turned into a college for women. After doing research and finding there was not a four-year college for African American women only,(Bennett was chartered as a college in 1889) The Woman's Home Missionary Society sought a school for that purpose. The Board of Education of North Carolina offered Bennett College for that task. Ten years of searching for a location and funding for the construction of a new campus (a new location was sought in Lynchburg, Virginia), the Women's Home Missionary Society and The Board of Education of North Carolina decided to keep the college in its current location since it was already an established institution. Bennett fully transitioned into a women's college in 1926. Note: The Women's Home Missionary Society's on campus involvement with Bennett women dates back to 1886.
In 1926, saw the arrival of David Dallas Jones who placed Bennett College on a pinnacle of new heights. Under Jones, Bennett College expanded and the student body grew to 400. Known as the Vassar College of the south, diversity was added to the campus with faculty, staff and student body, bringing individuals from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds to the college. Although his leadership of the college was very accomplished, it was also marred with controversy. In 1937, Bennett students protested downtown Greensboro, NC movie theaters because of the depictions of black women in film and segregation of movie theaters. The successful protest and boycott was led by Bennett College freshwoman Frances Jones (daughter of David D. Jones). Due to this protest in the height of Jim Crow in the south, Jones was visited by the FBI and other government agencies, ordering him to force the students from protesting, he refused. He defied all odds once again when he invited first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the college to meet with an integrated group of school aged children (black and white) from the Greensboro community March 22, 1945. Other visitors to the campus included Benjamin Elijah Mays – former Morehouse College president, poet Robert Frost and James Weldon Johnson. Jones led the college for almost 30 years until he became ill in 1955, naming Willa B. Player interim president. Note: (Bennett's brother school is Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. This relationship developed through the close and historic friendship of David Dallas Jones and Benjamin E. Mays.)
In October 1956, Willa Beatrice Player was inaugurated as President of Bennett College. She was the first African American woman to be president of a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts college or university. During Player's tenure, Bennett was one of the first historically black colleges to receive Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation in 1957. On February 11, 1958 she allowed controversial civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at the school when he was not allowed to speak anywhere else in Greensboro, NC. His iconic speech "A Realistic Look At Race Relations" was delivered to an overpacked audience at Bennett College's Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel. On King's visit to the college, Player was quoted "Bennett College is a liberal arts college where freedom rings so King can speak here." King's visit to the college along with Howard Thurman and Benjamin Elijah Mays (in order of visit to the college) is what sparked the Bennett Belles to plan and to lead protests in Greensboro.
In February 1960 civil unrest hit downtown Greensboro, NC with protest from African American college students from Bennett College and North Carolna A&T. February 2, 1960, Bettye Davis, class of 1963, made the commitment to sit at the "white-only" lunch counter with students from North Carolina A&T and remained at the lunch counter until it was integrated. February 4, 1960, close to a dozen Bennett Belles were arrested due to on going protest of Woolworths.
On April 21, 1960, Bennett and A&T students were arrested for trespassing at the S.H. Kress & Co. lunch counter.
On April 22, 1960, The Daily News broke the story of the arrests with front-page headlines and a picture of a well-dressed female students awkwardly entering the back of a paddy wagon without assistance from the police officers surrounding it. It was stated that Greensboro police were surprised by the behavior of Bennett Belles who were viewed as well dressed upstanding women from an "elitist finishing school" in the Greensboro community. At the peak of the sit in movement more than 40% of Bennett's student body was jailed. Player personally visited students in jail and carried their assignments to them so they would not fall behind in their studies.
Willa B. Player, the activist president, would lead Bennett for an additional six years before stepping down in 1966 and Isaac H. Miller was welcomed as the 11th president. Being at the college came full circle for Miller whose father was an administrator during former president Frank Trigg's tenure.
During the tenure of Isaac Miller, the Bennett Ideal was maintained. But it was not an easy task, with the social change of the 1960s, Bennett belles protested strict dress codes, disciplinary policies and curfew. During the 1967-68 school year, freshwomen walked out of dormitories 1 minute before curfew. Students took over the student union demanding change. Miller's response, surrounding the buildings with campus security, bringing family and sleeping bags which changed the protest into a campus wide sleep over. Belles wore dresses, hats and gloves until the early 1970s.
His collaboration with other colleges and universities in Greensboro resulted in a consortium which expanded Bennett's academic program offerings. Also under Isaac Miller, the Biomedical research and interdisciplinary studies programs were added along with a bridge program in conjunction with Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. He collaborated with other HBCU presidents aiding in the establishment of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and he served as the associations first board of directors. Miller's plans got the support of alumnae and they increased material and fiscal resources. Bennett's endowment grew and four new buildings were added. Isaac Miller served as president for a very accomplished 21 years, the second longest presidential tenure in Bennett College history. He retired in 1987, making Gloria Dean Randle Scott Bennett's 12th president and second woman to take the helm.
In June 2002 came big changes for Bennett College. The school was revitalized and much needed renovations were made to campus buildings by Sister President Emerita Johnnetta B. Cole who spearheaded a $50 million campaign. Also under her leadership the New Academy – an academic program, the Johnetta B. Cole Diversity and Inclusion Institute and an art gallery were added to expand the culture of the college. Dr. Cole also enhanced the study abroad program. Health and fitness was added as an expansion to educate the young ladies of the college on the importance of healthy living. A host of famous faces stopped by the campus and lent a hand to raise money for Bennett. Notables such as former President Bill Clinton, former US Senator Robert Dole, trustee emerita Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey assisted with this fundraising cause. The campaign closed successfully at the end of her tenure June 30, 2007.
On July 1, 2007, Julianne Malveaux became President of Bennett College. Under the leadership of Malveaux she spearheaded a $21 million expansion and renovation project of the college. She increased enrollment, added four new buildings, a multimedia center and additional renovations were made to campus buildings. Also under her tenure, Malveaux enhanced the overall academic curriculum which focuses on women's leadership, entrepreneurship, communications and global studies.
On July 1, 2012, Esther Terry '61 became the first alumna to ever lead the college. As the College's provost, Terry assumed the position of interim president for a full academic year. During the May 2013 commencement ceremony, the Board of Trustees announced that the official history of the College would refer to Terry as 16th President of Bennett College.
Rosalind Fuse-Hall assumed presidency on July 1, 2013. She is most known for her vivacious, down-to-earth spirit which has led to a plethora of connections within the higher education system. She focuses on the importance of increasing enrollment and retention.
Bennett is currently ranked among the top historically black colleges and universities, both for its academic achievements and its relatively reasonable tuition rates. Since 1930, Bennett has graduated more than 5,500 students, affectionately known as Bennett Belles. The college is also known for its intense spirituality, sisterhood and a wide range of school traditions.
Accreditations and memberships
In 1930, on the graduation of its first four women with a bachelor’s degree, the ‘A’ rating was granted to the college by the North Carolina State Department of Education. This same rating was granted the college in 1936 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Today, the college continues with its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation and is also accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
In 1957, Bennett was one of the first Black colleges to be admitted into full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Other organizations in which the college holds or has held membership include: the American Association of Colleges, The Commission on Black Colleges of the University Senate, the American Association of Registrars and Admission Officers, the American Council of Education, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the College Fund/UNCF, the Council on Independent Colleges, the Women’s College Coalition, the North Carolina Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the NCB Piedmont Automated Library System (NCBPALS), the Greater Greensboro Consortium, and the New York University Faculty Resource Network.
- W.J. Parker (principal) (1874–1877)
- Edward O. Thayer (1877–1881)
- Wilbur F. Steele (1881–1889)
- Charles N. Grandison (1889–1892)
- Jordan D. Chavis (1892–1905)
- Silas A. Peeler (1905–1913)
- James E. Wallace (1913–1915)
- Frank Trigg (1915–1926)
Bennett College for Women
- David Dallas Jones (1926–1955)
- Willa B. Player (1955–1966) – Bennett's first female president
- Isaac H. Miller, Jr. (1966–1987)
- Gloria Randle Scott (1987–2001)
- Althia F. Collins (2001–2002)
- Johnnetta B. Cole (2002–2007)
- Julianne Malveaux (2007–2012)
- Esther Terry (2012 – June 30, 2013) – Bennett's first alumna president
- Rosalind Fuse-Hall (July 1, 2013 – present)
Bennett college offers 24 majors and 19 minors under 3 divisions: Division of Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Mathematics, Division of Social Sciences and Education, and Division of Humanities. These disciplines include degrees in bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of arts and science in interdisciplinary studies, bachelor of social work, and the bachelor of fine arts. Bennett also offers five dual degree programs including Chemistry/Chemical Engineering with NC A&T, Chemistry/Pharmacy with Howard University, Mathematics/Mechanical Engineering with NC A&T, Mathematics/Electrical Engineering with NC A&T and Mathematics/Industrial Engineering with NC A&T.
Bennett has incorporated three new programs that are aimed at increasing students' awareness of the struggles and accomplishments of all women, especially those of African descent; and staying in-step with the ever-changing climate of today's globally integrated society: Womanist Religious Studies, Global Studies, Africana Women's Studies and The New Academy.
The Early/Middle College at Bennett College
The Middle College at Bennett has the distinction of being one of only two all-female high schools in the state of North Carolina. It began in 2003 as a middle college serving female 11th and 12th grade students who were at-risk of dropping out of high school. By 2006, with the help of The New Schools Project Reform Initiative, The Middle College expanded its population to include 9th and 10th graders and began offering dual enrollment. With dual enrollment, students take college courses and earn transferable college credit as they earn their high school diploma. Students begin taking college courses their 9th grade year and may earn up to two years of transferable college credit hours upon completion of their senior year.
Today, the Early/Middle College is nationally recognized as an honor school. In 2012 it was named a National Blue Ribbon School, and in 2011 and 2013 became one of 25 schools across the United States and Canada to receive a Project Ignition grant to put their no texting and driving campaign into action. In June 2013 the high school was announced as one of the top ten under the Project Ignition campaign and were awarded additional funding.
- Global Learning Center, houses administrative offices of the President and Institutional Advancement. The GLC has four classrooms, study rooms and a multipurpose room equipped with state of the art technology.
- Susie W. Jones Alumnae House, the oldest structure on campus, was built in 1915. Later named for the wife of Bennett's President David D. Jones it is used to house alumnae activities and offices.
- Wilbur F. Steele Hall, erected in 1922, is named for Reverend Wilbur Steele, president of Bennett from 1881 to 1889. Renovations were completed in 2004.
- Robert E. Jones Residence Hall, built in 1922, is named for the first Black minister elected as a general superintendent with full Episcopal responsibilities in the Methodist Church.
- John H. Race Administration Building, erected in 1925, is named for a Methodist church Publishing House official and trustee of Bennett College. It houses Business and Finance, Human Resources, Global Studies, the Entrepreneurship Institute and Public Relations.
- Enrollment Management Center, houses the offices of Financial Aid and Admissions.
- Pfeiffer Residence Hall, constructed in 1924, was the nucleus of the current Bennett College campus and the first of five structures that bear some variation of the names of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer, the institution’s most generous early benefactors.
- Black Hall, built in 1937 as Henry Pfeiffer Science Hall and renamed for Ethel F. Black, a Bennett College trustee, when, in 1967–68, a new Henry Pfeiffer Science Hall was built. It is one of two principal classroom buildings. The building houses the administrative offices of Enrollment Management, The Registrar’s Office, the Division of Social Sciences and Education including the Departments of Business and Economics, Curriculum and Instruction, Political Science and Social Work/Sociology, and one computer laboratory.
- Annie Merner Residence Hall, bears the maiden name of Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer and was erected in 1937–38. It currently houses faculty offices and The Institute For Academic Success (IAS).
- Thomas F. Holgate Library, was built in 1939, named for a former trustee of Bennett College, and funded by the General Education Board of the Methodist Church. Renovations to this building were completed in 2004.
- Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel and Little Theater, erected in 1941, forms the north boundary of the quadrangle around which most of the major buildings cluster.
- Carnegie Building, formerly a branch library of the City of Greensboro, was acquired by Bennett College in 1967 and renovated for use as a center for outreach programs. This facility houses the Truth and Reconciliation Archives and a portion of Information Technology IT.
- Jessie M. Reynolds Residence Hall, built in 1948, was named for Mrs. Reynolds, a Bennett College trustee from 1936 to 1948 and president of the Woman’s Division of Christian Service of the Methodist Church from 1940 to 1948.
- David D. Jones Student Union, erected 1949–50, was named for the president of the college from 1926 to 1955, and is said to have been the first building erected as a student union on a predominantly black college campus in North Carolina. It houses the dining hall, central storeroom, bookstore, snack bar, post office, SGA offices, Commuter Student Lounge, Bennett Boutique and recreational areas as well as the offices of the Student Affairs, Career Services, Residence Life, and Student Activities.
- Martin Dixon Intergenerational Center, the Bennett College laboratory preschool, is used as a pre-observational and training site for elementary education majors prior to their official field experiences in a public school setting. The first five-star, licensed child-care facility in Guilford County, the preschool is also used by other departments in the college for students to gain exposure to and experiences in working with young children. The Martin Dixon Intergenerational Center also serves as a training/field exposure site for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Psychology, Department of Political Science and Social Work/Sociology, and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. It is named for generous donor and Bennett alumna Joyce Martin Dixon '56.
- The President’s Home, forms the south base of the College quadrangle and was constructed in 1955.
- Laura H. Cone Residence Hall, was built in 1961–62. Mrs. Cone was a Bennett College trustee and chairperson of the Trustee Committee on Buildings and Grounds.
- The Ida Haslip Goode Health and Physical Education Building, is named for a long-time trustee of Bennett College who was also president of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. The gymnasium contains an Olympic-style swimming pool, a standard basketball court, a combined stage and ballet studio, a corrective exercise gymnasium, faculty offices, four classrooms, and a seminar-conference room. This facility provides classrooms for the Early/Middle College High School at Bennett, a partnership program with the Guilford County School System.
- Willa B. Player Residence Hall, this residence hall, was named for the first woman president of Bennett College (1955–66) and was occupied for the first time in the fall of 1967.
- Henry Pfeiffer Science Building, was built in 1968. In addition to classrooms and laboratories, this structure contains four computer laboratories, one electronic classroom, an animal laboratory with an adjacent greenhouse, and the faculty development resource room and faculty lounge.
- The Honors Residence Hall, completed in 2010, is the largest residence hall. This facility has a capacity for 144 honor students, guest suites, seminar room to accommodate lectures and special programs and a computer lab for the residents.
- Pfeiffer Science Computer Laboratories, The computer labs serve all students on campus in a wide variety of disciplines. The computer labs, located on the first floor of Pfeiffer Science Building, are used as electronic classrooms for specific classes as well as for general academic purposes. Among the software available are word processing, spreadsheets, mathematics and statistical programs, computer programming languages, a large test bank, and electronic lecture notes in mathematics and the sciences. The labs are available for student use throughout the day and evening hours.
- Rose Catchings Complex, built in 1981, houses the administrative office of the Provost and Senior Associate Provost of the college; Student Health Services, Counseling Center, Information Technology IT and Administrative Services.
- Merner Pfeiffer Plant – Journalism and Media Studies Building, was adapted for reuse as an academic building in 2009. This historic building originally constructed in 1935 as the heating plant for the campus, houses the Department of Journalism & Media Studies and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to fully support the curriculum and instruction for this degree program .
- The Bennett College Micro-Laboratory for Effective Teaching, housed in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Black Hall, is a simulated laboratory equipped with technological capabilities. Designed to enhance the teaching skills of students enrolled in the Teacher Education Program, the Micro-Lab provides opportunities for self-observance, self-assessment, reflection and exposure to best-practice methods, techniques, and materials prior to actual engagement in pre-professional practicum and student teaching experiences.
There are over 60 campus social, service, religious, and the student government association organizations. Bennett College also has collegiate sports.
Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Kappa Mu, Beta Kappa Chi, Iota Iota Iota, Psi Chi, Sigma Tau Delta
Student publications, media and alumnae publications
Bennett Banner, Belle Vision TV, Bennett College Association of Black Journalist, Belle Ringer Alumnae Magazine
Student academic and enrichment clubs
American Civil Liberties Club, Belle Business Club, Biology Club, Chemistry Club, Foster Friends Club, HBCU-UP Club, Mathematics and Computer Science Club, Psychology Club, Social Work Club, Journalism Club, Minority Association for Pre-Med Students (MAPS).
Barge Hall Council, Cone Hall Council, Jones Hall Council, Pan Hellenic Council, Pfeiffer Hall Council, Player Hall Council, Reynolds Hall Council, Pre Alumnae Council or PAC.
Student Government Association (SGA)
Serves as the official governing body for students.
Student Union Advisory Board (SUAB)
Provides educational, cultural, social recreation, entertainment and community building.
Student North Carolina Association of Educators (SNCAE)
Aids in making a smooth transition for education majors from classwork to first year teaching.
Belle awareness and encouragement groups
Belles Against Domestic Violence, Belles of Peace, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Political Pacesetters, HIV/AIDS Prevention Taskforce
Bennett College Choir, Belles of Harmony Gospel Choir, The Millennium Mentors, Spirit of David Dance Ministry, Student Christian Fellowship, United Methodist Women, Catholic Campus Connection.
Ringers, Liberty Belle New York Connection, Sister to Sister, Native Sister, Mid West Belles Club, Southern Belles Club, West Coast Connect
Caribbean Connection, International Club
National Pan Hellenic Council
Active Sororities on Bennett College campus
Belles in Media, Blue Blaze Dancers, Bennett College Ambassadors Association, Class Governments (Freshwomen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior), Ecentrique Modeling Troupe, Ladies of Essence Dance Team, Queens Association, Students in Free Enterprise.
Bennett College for Women Athletics
Basketball, Golf, Soccer, Swimming, Softball
Health, wellness and fitness
Outdoor Tennis Courts, 1/2 Mile Walking Track, Fitness/Weight Room
|Dorothy L. Brown||1941||First African American woman general surgeon in the south and to serve on the Tennessee General Assembly, Brown was also the first African American woman to be made a fellow of the American College of Surgeons|
|Maidie Norman||1934||Actress and educator. Maidie Norman's most famous role came in the 1962 horror and suspense film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? along side veteran actresses Joan Crawford and Betty Davis. Norman is also widely known in Hollywood for fighting against stereotypical movie roles of African Americans.|
|Carolyn R. Payton||1945||First woman, first African American and first psychologist tapped by President Jimmy Carter to head the Peace Corps. Payton also defined the meaning for what it is to be a First Class Citizen. She is also a pioneer in women's psychology|
|Jacquelyn Grant||1970||Author of the widely acclaimed White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response. Jacquenlyn Grant is the first African American woman to earn a doctoral degree in systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary. She is also an author, theology professor and minister.|
|Beverly Buchanan||1962||Noted artist for her exploration of Southern vernacular architecture. She went on to Columbia University where she received a master's degree in parasitology(1968) and public health(1969). Beverly decided not to attend medical school in order to pursue her dream as an artist.|
|Yvonne Johnson||1962||First African American Mayor of Greensboro, NC and Educator.|
|Gladys A. Robinson||1971||Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate representing the 28th district.|
|R. Nathaniel Dett||Music||Visiting Director of Music. Advisor to Frances Jones Bonner during 1937 downtown Greensboro, NC boycott and protest.|
|Julianne Malveaux||President||African-American economist, author, liberal social and political commentator, and businesswoman. Began as a visiting professor of economics before serving as president 2007–2012.|||
|Alma Adams||Art||Was elected to North Carolina House of Representatives in 1994. Served as professor of art and former director of Steele Hall Art gallery.|
|Merze Tate||Social Science||Department chair of Social Science and professor.|||
- "About Us". Bennett College. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "Student Affairs". Bennett College. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "Student Affairs: Athletics". Bennett College. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "Bennett College Concentrated on Educating Black Women". African American Registry. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "Bennett College's Civil Rights Timeline". Bennett's Sit-in Story. Bennet College Journalism and Media Studies Department. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "Willa Player Encouraged and Taught Many". African American Registry. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- "Bennett College, a haven for Education . . .". The African American Registry. 2005-08-01. Archived from the original on December 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- Arnett, Ethel Stephens (1973). For Whom Our Public Schools Were Named, Greensboro, North Carolina. Piedmont Press. p. 274.
- Wallace, Rich (September 1996). "Ida Haslup Goode Leaves Legacy". Traveling Through Time. Shelby County Historical Society. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Julianne Malveaux Resigns as President of Bennett College. The Grio. February 28, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2014.