Clark Atlanta University Launches SMPTE Student Chapter, the First at a Historically Black College and University

Paula Owens, Communications Manager

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) has become the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to launch a Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) Student Chapter. Through its new SMPTE Student Chapter, CAU will give students the opportunity to learn about the latest technologies and trends, meet industry leaders and professionals, and develop and even refine the skills they need to move into a workplace in need of those talents.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Dr. Michele Wright, an HBCU alum herself as a Tuskegee University grad, and the larger SMPTE team — including President Renard Jenkins, Executive Director David Grindle, and Membership Director Zandra Clark — on dynamic projects to foster student success and professional sustainability,” said Dr. Brian Bentley, assistant professor and associate dean of arts and sciences at Clark Atlanta University. “SMPTE is the gold standard for the industry, literally setting the standard with its color bars, time code, and so many others. A SMPTE Student Chapter at CAU will create fantastic possibilities for student and faculty development. In building this relationship with SMPTE and reaching this historic milestone, I believe we’ll also open up opportunities for other HBCUs.”

Leveraging its distinctive history, Clark Atlanta University transforms the lives of students and their communities by preparing citizen leaders to be problem-solvers through innovative learning programs, supportive interactions with faculty, staff, and students, exemplary scholarship, and purposeful service. The CAU SMPTE Student Chapter likewise will help to prepare students for success in future roles, providing both community and resources supporting their exploration of careers as media professionals, technologists, and engineers. Thanks to their close connection with SMPTE and its extensive professional network, SMPTE Student Chapters are able to host educational and networking events that are in tune with the skills needed, the knowledge most valuable, and the opportunities available for students as they move into the professional realm.

“The SMPTE Student Chapter at CAU is a tremendous addition to our stellar group of chapters across the world,” said SMPTE Director of Business Development and Outreach Michele Wright. “While students and faculty will benefit from connections with the technologists, artists, executives, and other professionals whose work and ideas are shaping the industry, SMPTE will be enriched through a deeper relationship with the university, the research conducted by its faculty, and the participation of its student body. The Society is dedicated to creating pathways into the industry for a diverse workforce, and synergistic collaboration through the launch of SMPTE Student Chapters is an exciting element of that work. We couldn’t have a better partner than CAU in establishing this first SMPTE Student Chapter at an HBCU, and we look forward to further collaborations with HBCUs all over the nation.”

CAU will be home not just to the first SMPTE Student Chapter at an HBCU but also to the 2024 Power of Color Symposium, a first-of-a-kind SMPTE event dedicated to the art and science of portraying aspects of color — diverse hues and human features — in film, TV, animation, and gaming. More information on the two-day symposium, Feb. 6-7 at CAU, is online at

Further information about SMPTE is online at

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About SMPTE®

SMPTE is the global society of media professionals, technologists, and engineers working in the digital entertainment industry. The Society fosters a diverse and engaged membership from both the technology and creative communities, delivering vast educational offerings, technical conferences, and exhibitions, the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, and access to a rich network of colleagues essential to their career success. As an internationally recognized standards organization, SMPTE also provides a vital technical framework of engineering standards and guidelines that allow the seamless creation, management, and delivery of media for art, entertainment, and education worldwide.

About Clark Atlanta University

CAU was formed in 1988 with the consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College, both of which hold unique places in the annals of African American history. Atlanta University, established in 1865 by the American Missionary Association, was the nation’s first institution to award graduate degrees to African Americans. Established four years later in 1869, Clark College was the nation’s first four-year liberal arts college to serve a primarily African American student population. Today, with nearly 4,000 students, CAU is an urban research university and the largest of the four institutions (CAU, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Morehouse School of Medicine) that comprise the Atlanta University Center Consortium. It is also the largest of the 37-member UNCF institutions.