Meet 8 HBCU Presidents of the Future

There is a typical formula for executive headhunting in higher education. Search firms deploy a mix of Google news searches, relationships with executives whom they previously placed at schools, and social media to determine how a candidate can be identified and recruited to a school. 

But these firms often fail schools and candidates by not investing resources in identifying talent getting to know the personalities of candidates and campuses. Everybody can have a skill set, and some can translate it into institutional success. A few of those people can earn respect and adoration from their campuses while doing good work. 

But how many people can take their skill and personality on the road to a different school and successfully hire an executive cabinet, develop a loving relationship with alumni and students, and become a living reflection of the campus culture in the community? 

Not everyone can do it, but sometimes the numbers and the feedback from campuses reveal certain leaders as presidential material. Finding the story behind the numbers (longevity, consistency, and respect within the campus culture) is what helps to determine who can move to the highest seat of responsibility on campus. 

All presidents come into a job, knowing that there are certain job functions they must master. They must fundraise, love legislative and interpersonal politics, be data-obsessed, media savvy, and extroverted by nature. Every element of this list missing from their personality or their skillset increases the likelihood of being fired in short order.

A few years ago, I wrote a piece outlining some of the challenges facing the HBCU sector and how they could impact the ability of black colleges to recruit capable executive talent.

There were a few names that at the time, I thought would be good fits to be in the queue for presidential grooming. Two of them have successfully earned presidential spots in the last four years, while the others remain deserving of consideration for training and preparation as school presidents. 

Here are a few people who, if they haven’t been targeted already, should also be in line for presidential mentoring, high-level executive responsibility and possibly, administrative search outreach. They are broken down by typical divisions of administration on campus. 

Student Affairs

If your campus is looking to grow student enrollment, develop athletics, facilitate diversity, or to build ancillary revenue, here are a few names doing great work across the sector.

Emmanuel Lalande – Vice President for Enrollment Management, Benedict College: Has increased enrollment at public and private HBCUs (Benedict, Harris-Stowe State University, Florida Memorial University) and has overseen record retention rates at Benedict while admission standards have increased. 

Toya Corbett – Assistant Vice Chancellor & Dean of Students at North Carolina Central University: Giving among NCCU young alumni has increased in recent years, suggesting that Dr. Corbett’s student engagement and campus activities programs are laying a solid foundation for the university’s alumni relations efforts.

Institutional Advancement

Archie Tucker – Vice President for Marketing, Communications and Advancement, Alabama A&M University. A state with shifting industry, politics and social agendas has not stopped AAMU from reaching historic gains in corporate and alumni giving over the past three years. 

Reshunda Mahone – Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Virginia State University. In two years at VSU, Mahone has attracted corporate support from state-based and regional corporations in support of agricultural capacity building, leadership training, and minority access. 

Finance and Management

Corey Bradford – Senior Vice President for Business Affairs at Prairie View A&M University: PVAMU is a business enterprise that is the heartbeat of Waller County, Texas. The division’s leadership sets the agenda for economic development, corporate partnerships, and workforce development opportunities.

Tonjia Coverdale – Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Central State University: Spearheaded a partnership with Oracle to bolster student retention and success, while creating internship and career pathways for students within the company. 

Academic Affairs

Sanjiv Sarin – Vice Provost for Research, Graduate Programs and Extended Learning and Dean, Graduate School at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University: NCAT is the nation’s largest HBCU and among the most comprehensive historically black research institutions in the world because of the school’s capacity to earn external research funding for programs and projects with applicable value to the state of North Carolina and its surrounding region. 

Lesia Crumpton-Young – Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morgan State University: Prior to her arrival in Baltimore, Crumpton-Young helped Tennessee State University to national research prominence in key areas of agriculture, applied sciences and healthcare. 

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