New leaders at Morehouse College say the past is behind them. Conflict within the school’s ranks led to the recent ouster of President John Wilson and the shuffling of leadership positions on the board of trustees, including chairman.
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“Part of the change is: how do we move from some levels of dysfunction to a higher level of collaboration in terms of working together?” said Trustee Dale Jones.
The “dysfunction” he’s talking about is tension between Wilson, the board of trustees, and its former chair Robert Davidson. Both Wilson and Davidson have been replaced. The school has also updated its by-laws to include more input from students and faculty.
New board chair Willie Woods admits the recent discord and leadership turnover could impact fundraising.
“At the end of the day, it takes money to solve a lot of problems, right?” Woods said. “So we’ve got to be very focused, as the new leaders, on finding money and fundraising.”
Mary Beth Gasman is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s also an expert on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Gasman says Morehouse alumni need to step up and show their support.
“Presidents come and go,” she said. “Morehouse is their institution. Morehouse really does have this history of creating really strong leaders, and people who go out and do amazing things. And so, where would you be without that degree? And the degree has nothing to do with the president.”
Interim President, and former Morehouse COO, Bill Taggart, said alumni have shown signs of doing just that.
“I’ve had numerous discussions with alums all around the country,” Taggart said. ” They are re-engaging. They are engaged, with the purpose of getting back to the business at hand.”
Morehouse will conduct a national search to find its next president. Gasman said all the trustees need to support him, even if he’s not their first choice. The board hopes to pick one by the end of the year.