Image for post
Image for post

On Thursday night, Wiley College held a celebration in honor of their retiring president, Dr. Haywood Strickland. Wiley is a United Methodist institution, like Dillard (and Philander Smith). So I have had a chance to work closely with Dr. Strickland for 14 years.

Let me tell you- he hazed me as a new president! All the elders did (heck I was just 37). But over the years I have learned so much from them all, and the scary thing for me (and the realization at the same time), is that the new generation can’t just serve as presidents, but need to step up into leadership positions. Being the Big Brother in the new generation, that means I’ve got to step up even more as well.

But here is part of the legacy that no one talks about. After working for UNCF, he became the president of Texas College during a time when it was losing accreditation. He spent 6 years working to restore it and to this day, NO institution that has lost SACSCOC accreditation had it restored except for Texas College absent of a lawsuit. This means he led the complete transformation of the school so that it could meet the standards of accreditation.

For the past 18 years he has been president of Wiley College. Always strongly linked to the United Methodist Church, always in compliance with SACSCOC, he was very active in both groups. He stays on presidents now telling them (us) we have to sign up and participate on accreditation teams- too few HBCU presidents are participating and accreditation is a member-driven process. If we don’t participate, we leave our fate up to folks who don’t know us well. In fact, there are schools that have probably been saved because he was on their visiting team.

Image for post
Image for post

I missed the event as I was scheduled to be at another meeting but ended up at the Father-Son Mass at Benjamin’s school today. But from the picture above, at least 15 current and past HBCU presidents were on hand, along with UNCF president Dr. Michael Lomax, to salute him. This photo speaks volumes about the level of respect he has with his peers.

He is finishing his term as chair of the UNCF member presidents, which seems to be a fitting way for him to end his career. We’ll definitely lean on his institutional wisdom in the years to come, but I couldn’t let the day go by without sharing a few thoughts.

Last thought. If you watch the movie “The Great Debaters” closely, you’ll see him in a cameo role. I teased him after that because it was cool to me to see him in the movie (of course about Wiley College’s debate team). Of course Denzel Washington gave Wiley $1 million when the movie was released, and recently added another $1 million pledge to continue the work.

So congrats to Dr. Haywood Strickland on completing his tenure as president of Wiley, and his advocacy for UNCY schools and HBCUs as a whole.

The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store