Morehouse Alumni Call For Ouster of President John Wilson

Cite inaccessibility of leadership, poor institutional metrics.

Cite inaccessibility of leadership, poor institutional metrics.

A group of Morehouse College alumni have petitioned the school’s board of trustees to terminate John Silvanus Wilson as college president, the latest and strongest statement against his administration since returning to lead his alma mater in 2013.

Citing poor communication, misleading data on institutional development and growing tension between the administration, faculty and graduates, the letter holds the board accountable for the perceived decline of Morehouse’s capacity and brand.

With limited transparency and even less access, the Wilson administration has strategically manipulated the narratives of their success as demonstrated by their spin on the lowest enrollment numbers since the mid 1970’s, as “the largest entering class ever.” Combining the lack of fundraising, shrinking endowment, continuous cash-flow issues, the firing, removal or departure of 100+ faculty and staff (including humanities and science department staples). Wilson has alienated the alumni, which is visible by the lower than average numbers of alumni interaction with College and financial contributions.

It continues:

The power of Morehouse has always been the collective agreement of excellence for the dreams of millions, who only could imagine a better world. We stood as the place to build the archetype of that dream — a man with infinite resolve, inquisitiveness, knowledge, wisdom, and a keen sense of self. That man, the Morehouse Man, was then sent into the greater world to execute with a distinct understanding of the issues facing all groups, the networks on and off of campus to impact communities, the heart to live up to their destiny, and the grit to withstand any weather. This has not been the case since the installment of Wilson, nor can it return with him remaining in the highest operational position at the College.

Complaints about Dr. Wilson’s administration peaked in October 2015, shortly after the college’s Board of Trustees revealed that it had granted a one-year extension of his original contract, now scheduled to expire in 2017.

Following the announcement, Dr. Wilson drew controversy and was jeered by students during a Crown Forum event for remarks relative to the contract extension.

“I’m not running from this position of president, and I’m not running for this position of president,” Dr. Wilson said. “I am the president of Morehouse College, and I will be so until God says otherwise.”

Dr. Wilson, who prior to his appointment as Morehouse president served as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, oversaw a Department of Education division which watched the decline of federal funding to HBCUs by more than $150 million between 2010 and 2011, and changes made to federal student loan programs which collectively cost HBCUs $150 million between 2011 and 2013; mostly without warning or advisement to HBCU presidents on the changes or ways to adapt to the financial forecasts.

As of this publishing, the petition has received more than 200 signatures, including one from noted history professor and director of African American studies at the college, Marcellus Barksdale.

For all of the reason stated in the letter and for the shabby way I have been treated over the past three years. As the former chair of the 150th Morehouse Anniversary History Project, I was sorely dissapointed when I was told to “pause” my new scholarly history of our Dear Old Morehouse because the administration wanted to go in another direction. I was told by the chief academic officer that my work was “too scholarly”: What did he expect from a scholar, a Duke trained historian and a member of the History Department? I was wounded. I got zero support from the administration. I am a member of the great Class of 1965 and a member of the faculty for nearly 40 years.