Shaw University had double cause for celebration this spring.

One year after a tornado swept through Raleigh, N.C. and hit the campus, damaging 27 buildings and six buildings destroying part or all of the roofs on six buildings, the university held a special “Open House” on the steps of the Willie E. Gary Student Center earlier this month to thank the volunteers, donors and officials who provided assistance to repair and restore the buildings.

On March 23, the Shaw University Lady Bears defeated Ashland (OH) University 88-82 in overtime to claim the 2012 NCAA Division II National Women’s Basketball championship, its first NCAA championship.

Five of the unranked Lady Bears’ six wins in this year’s tournament came over nationally ranked teams, four of them in the Top 10. After the tournament, Shaw was voted the top-ranked team in the nation in the USA Today ESPN poll.

In recognition of the team’s accomplishments, The D-II Bulletin named head coach Jacques Curtis its national Coach of the Year.

The Lady Bears, who compete in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), won the conference tournament for the second straight season and the seventh time in 10 years. This year was the conference’s 100th anniversary and in winning the national championship, Shaw becomes only the third women’s basketball team from the CIAA to claim the NCAA crown (Virginia Union in 1983 and Hampton in 1988). This year was the Lady Bears’ ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Maybe Shaw’s good fortune is due to the return of interim President Dorothy Yancy, who took the helm in the fall, replacing former President Irma McClaurin.

It’s Yancy’s second tour of duty as interim president. She previously held the post from June 2009 until Sept.2010, when McClaurin was named.

Yancy also spent 14 years as president of Johnson C. Smith University, where she ran two successful capital campaigns and raised more than $145 million for the school and increased its endowment from $14 million to $53 million.

Shaw, the oldest historically black college or university in the South, is in the process of seeking re-accreditation, which is crucial for getting federal funding.

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