Presidents of HBCUs Talk About Sustainable Leadership

Valerie Wilson of Brown University describes what she has learned partnering with other HBCUs. | EducationSector | Flickr
Valerie Wilson of Brown University describes what she has learned partnering with other HBCUs. | EducationSector | Flickr

Historically black colleges and universities have been at the center of a number of public debates on the changing culture of higher education. But with a new year of challenges ahead in financing, political mobilization and the redefining of value in higher education, many HBCU communities are searching to discover how to keep quality leadership, or to attract it.

Four sitting presidents shared lessons on sustainable HBCU leadership, with each giving their top impression of what it takes to build a long and successful presidency at a black college.

“It really starts with president and board synergy. If they are not compatible, the institution suffers. Most of these short tenures are due to that mismatch, and that’s not an indictment of the president or the board. It starts though with the presidential candidate.”“They need to have the strength to say no to an offer when it is clear to the world that this is not a good fit. I think folks are too anxious to be a president sometimes and that will impact their career.”

 

– Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough

 

“Leading HBCUs has to be a labor of love for the institutions and students that we serve. In addition to the normal stresses of running universities in an era of shrinking resources, there are special challenges embedded in HBCUs. They are institutional reflections of the people they primarily serve, and as such have been denied access to wealth and the ability to generate it.” 

“That basic American truism about black people and black institutions affects everything we do. We don’t have any problems that wealth wouldn’t solve; or as is the case of many white institutions, hide.”

 

– Southern University System President Ronald Mason

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Source: Black Voices | Jarrett L. Carter