The 2021 HBCU Presidents’ Resolution: Preach From Your Bully Pulpits!
I am modifying this piece I wrote last year on this date. It’s timely.
A 2019 Resolution for HBCU Presidents: Write at least one editorial
Every year I make sure that writing is one of my objectives. I tell folks I hate going to conferences and meetings…
For the past few years I’ve made a resolution for my HBCU presidential colleagues to write more editorials (right- I’m making resolutions for them but since my younger colleagues call me the Dean of the young-ish presidents, I can do that!). I shared a number of quotes from presidents over the years saying we have to use our voices in the public sphere. My favorite was from Benjamin Elijah Mays, who in a 1951 article entitled “What’s Wrong With Negro Leaders,” wrote “the first thing wrong with all too many Negro leaders, whether on the local or national scene, is fear. Fear makes cowards of us all.”
Colleges are doing too little to combat the growing misinformation roiling our society (opinion)
And you may ask yourself, well ... how did I get here? -- "Once in a Lifetime," Talking Heads Facebook stopped making…
Ryan Craig’s December 20, 2019 editorial for Inside Higher Ed reminded me of my resolution. He writes
The existential question facing higher education in 2019 isn’t about taking a political stand, or doing anything brave or controversial besides speaking out — vocally and repeatedly — for critical thinking, reason and sense. Colleges and universities stand little chance of making sense to students when they’re continuing to base their value proposition on sense but are too blinded by their parochial interests to defend it.
University Presidents-Speak Out!
Columbia University. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) In May 1943, James B. Conant, the president of Harvard University…
His article links a POWERFUL piece by Scott Sherman for The Nation in February of 2013, “University Presidents — Speak Out! Where are their voices on the major issues of the day?” At a minimum I hope every college and university president reads this article- applies to us all. The article contains a number of biting quotes:
Sherman: “Think about it: When was the last time a college or university president produced an edgy piece of commentary, or took a daring stand on a contentious matter?”
Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus (2010): “Once upon a time, university leaders were seen as sculptors of society.” Now they “are chiefly technocrats, agile climbers who reach the top without making too many enemies or mistakes.”
Jonathan Cole (2009): “Presidents have done a very, very poor job of using the bully pulpit for higher education… There aren’t many presidents who are fighting against the powers that be.”
Theodore Hesburgh (2001): “We cannot urge students to have the courage to speak out unless we are willing to do so ourselves.”
So, if you know an HBCU president, send them this article and ask them to join me in writing an editorial this year. Look, in education everyone thinks they are an expert. People write all the time about HBCUs who have never held any meaningful leadership position in one, or engaged in serious study.
We’re the experts and we have to see framing HBCUs accurately as part of our job (among a million other things I know). But if everyone does just one we would begin to develop a body of work based on those doing the work.
But as leaders of some of the foundational institutions in our communities, one of the pillars described by former Morehouse President Robert Franklin in the text, “Crisis In The Village,” this is our obligation. My own board chair recently said in a conversation, “If you’re afraid to speak up working at institutions like these then you’re at the wrong place.”
Higher ed leaders condemn riot at U.S. Capitol
College and university leaders across the country responded to the violent chaos at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday using…
Our voices are MORE important today as America begins to go into rehab as some of our citizens are addicted to Trump and his trumpism drug (Frank Lucas would call it orange magic I’m sure). We have to say more than this is not who we are as Americans, because this is who we are. We have to say that we have the potential to be so much more and let’s work toward a beloved community.
YOU WILL GET CRITICIZED! I don’t like getting beat up on social media either. Sometimes I write controversial but needed pieces to make sure I haven’t gotten scared to take the beating. When I am afraid to do so, it is time to retire.
As I wrote last year, I still believe Mark 8:36:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? KJV
or the Message translation
What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
Nothing. So find something else to be mad at me about.
A number of my colleagues did write last year so allow me to highlight some of their writings:
Dr. Herman Felton, Wiley College
The Death of Black Superheroes
My son and I are playing Pokemon' on his gaming device and I receive a text message with a video clip. I play the video…
Dr. Roslyn Artis, Benedict College
Reopening HBCU Campuses -- It's Bigger than Football
College and university presidents nationwide are wrestling with the difficult decision of whether and how to safely…
Dr. Michael Sorrell, Paul Quinn College
Colleges Are Deluding Themselves
The pandemic makes those questions more urgent than ever. Institutions such as mine understand crisis better than most…
Dr. David Thomas, Morehouse College
Morehouse president: It's too soon for Georgia to open up. Here's how we're weathering the storm
David A. Thomas writes that despite rising cases of coronavirus in Georgia, a segment of the business community will…
Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Spelman College
Spelman College Faces a Redefined Reality
The school, which was designed for the success of black women and cherishes close relationships among its Spelman…
Dr. Roderick Smothers, Philander Smith College
20/20 Vision in the Wake of a Crisis
by Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. As with any new year, there are hopeful prognostications of what a fresh canvas will…
Dr. Glenda Glover, Tennessee State University
Presidential Commentary: Black Women and the HBCUs That Trained Them Will Not Be Denied by Ambition…
Black women all across this nation should be outraged by the commentary that a qualified African-American woman is "too…
Dr. Wayne Frederick, Howard University
Howard University president: The pool of Black talent in America is not 'limited' at all
Editor's Note: (Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA is the 17th president of Howard University and the Charles R. Drew…
Dr. Wayne Frederick, Howard University; Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. David M. Carlisle, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Dr. James Hildreth, Meharry Medical College.
Opinion | We Need to Recruit More Black Americans in Vaccine Trials
Pharmaceutical companies and the government must step up their efforts to enroll a diverse group of volunteers. Wayne…
Dr. Dwaun Warmack, Claflin University
OPINION: Twenty million dollar gift to rural HBCU is unprecedented. It shouldn't be.
Claflin University was recently honored with a landmark gift of $20 million-the largest in school history-which will…
Dr. David Wilson, Morgan State University
Morgan president talks how to be a 'woke' university president | COMMENTARY
University presidents must be careful in our leadership roles to not become so removed from the context in which so…
Dr. William Harvey, Hampton University
Opinion | The simple question that can help schools make hard decisions about covid-19
Like all leaders, those of us in higher education have a lot on our shoulders at this moment. College and university…