At Dillard, we do a January retreat with our Board of Trustees. I think I can say we’ve had some really strong presentations in the past, and we’ve looked at some top topics.

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We’ve had Cheryl Smith, then VP for Governmental Affairs for UNCF, to talk about the future of HBCU governmental relations during the Trump era.

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Chief David Perry, now at UNC Chapel Hill (and who was the chief at Albany State when I was there) came to talk about active shooters on campus and overall campus safety issues. Scott Schneider, AKA the Ed Law Dude, gave a comprehensive presentation on Title IX.

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Last year Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson from the Black College Fund of the United Methodist Church did a UMC 101- very timely as the denomination was in the process of a split which is still playing out now.

So after completing our sesquicentennial year, and with the year 2020 being a great time to talk about vision, we had a super big board retreat. HBCU governance is often in the news and its often negative. More and more scholars are starting to study HBCU board dynamics. But I have been fortunate to work with 2 great boards, here and at Philander Smith.

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Dr. Charlie Nelms & Dr. John Wilson

So we had two superstars working with our board and some of our senior campus leaders. Dr. Charlie Nelms works with AGB, the Association of Governing Boards. AGB has done special workshops and studies on HBCU governance. Our board used the AGB instrument to do a self assessment, and Dr. Nelms came in to discuss the results and give us some ideas about how we move forward in the future.

He set the table for Dr. John Wilson who pushed us to look with a greater sense of urgency, no, with a sense of emergency in an era where a high number of colleges and universities are expected to close in the next decade (over 100). It was one of those presentations that resonated with everyone in the room, and left us with a sense of opportunity, but that we can’t squander this opportunity.

Both men are former college presidents, and Dr. Wilson also led the White House Initiative on HBCUs. Dr. Nelms, president of 3 institutions including North Carolina Central, recently released a book about his life.

Wilson, past president of his alma mater, Morehouse College, is working on a book. And based on the preview we saw, it will be tremendous!

The irony was as we were finishing up our retreat, news broke that an HBCU placed the president on leave with no explanation. It reminded me of Wilson saying boards should use a telescope rather than a microscope. I’ll wait to see what happens but I’m known to throw shade at boards that unfairly treat my colleagues.

Stay tuned…

The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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