HBCU News

Visionary Presidents and the future of HBCUs

Individuals that define a visionary president are those who are cited for being committed to diversity, engagement with local communities, and committed to equality in opportunity. Mentioned are a few of those visionary leaders who are demonstrating a vision for the future of HBCUs.

Swiftly approaching her full first year as a Historically Black University president, Jerald Jones Woolfolk, 20th President of Lincoln University of Missouri, is at the forefront of continuing the mission of leading LU as a 21st Century HBCU.

Dr. Jerald Jones Woolfolk, Ph.D., 20th President of Lincoln University – Missouri. Photo Credit: Jefferson City Magazine.

With a work experience of 34 years, and 15 of those years serving in senior level administration positions, President Woolfolk has served at several HBCUs prior too Lincoln. Her presidency will mark one year as of June 1, 2019. The Jackson State University alumna is passionate about the logistics of graduating students within four years of their colligate studies

Featured in the Jefferson City Magazine, Woolfolk stated; “I know the value of an education and how it changes lives and patterns of living. As a native of the Mississippi Delta, one of the most impoverished areas of the country, education was my path to a better life. My parents instilled in my siblings and me from a very early age that we were going to college, and we did.”

Woolfolk’s goal is to strengthen the relationship between Jefferson City and Lincoln University. She wants the community to know that Lincoln University is a partner in the future growth and development of Jefferson City. She currently serves on the Board of Director for United Way of Central Missouri.

Sworn in as the tenth president of Morris College on April 12, 2019, Dr. Leroy Staggers is also a first-time college president. For sixteen years, he served as Academic Dean and Professor of English.

The Voorhees College alumnus has served as the academic dean at Morris College for 16 years. Staggers hopes to work diligently to keep students front and center, in all his decision made. He also plans to build onto the great achievement of past president Dr. Luns C. Richardson, who served the college for 43 years. He died in 2018 at the age of 89.

Before joining the Morris College family in August of 1993, Staggers served as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of English and Director of Faculty Development at Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina. He has also worked as his alma mater as Chairman of the Division of Humanities and Assistant Professor of English. Also, Staggers served as Instructor of English and Reading at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama.

Dr. Leroy Staggers pictured with students of Morris College.

Credited for her leadership with leading the institution to an increase in enrollment, improvements with tuition cost, and grant growth. Dr. Karrie G. Dixon took the helm as interim chancellor of Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) on April 9, 2018.

Dixon, who co-chaired ECSU’s Working Group Phase 2: A New Direction, since October 2017, was appointed by University of North Carolina System Past President, Margaret Spellings. Prior to joining the UNC System, Dixon served a total of 10 years combined at two other UNC campuses. She was an assistance vice provost at North Carolina State University and remains and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the College of Education’s Department of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education. Dixon received her bachelor’s from NC State University.

Dr. Karrie G. Dixon, Chancellor of Elizabeth City State University.

Rebounding the institution from low enrollment and financial difficulties, after a year Dixon was named by UNC Board of Governors as Chancellor. On Friday, September 6, she will become the 7th chancellor installed and the second woman to hold the position.

ECSU is one of three UNC campuses that is a part of providing $500 tuition per semester in encouraging North Carolina high school graduates to further their education at their institution.

Named as ‘HBCU Male President of the Year’ on numerous occasions, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah exemplifies visionary onward. Serving as the 14th President of Virginia State University since February 1, 2016, Abdullah has proven VSU to its best values and continued growth for long-term success.

Under Abdullah’s leadership, the University had a 30 percent increase in fall 2016 enrollment. In 2017, the University’s first-time Freshmen increased nearly 50 percent than the number in 2015. Previously served as provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University, he has also served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Memorial University, and dean and director of 1890 land grant programs at FAMU.

An HBCU graduate himself, Abdullah received his undergraduate degree from Howard University in civil engineering from Northwestern University. He also is recognized as the youngest African American to earn a Ph.D. in engineering.

Quoted by him; “I believe in God. I believe in family. I believe in the transformative nature of education. I believe in Virginia State University.”

Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D.

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