Morehouse, Purge President John Wilson
To Chairman Robert C. Davidson and members of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees:
It has become amazingly clear that Morehouse College is in great turmoil. As both students and, now, alum, we are all too familiar with the movements necessary to keep the college alive and well. Accordingly, with the history and future of the college on the line, it is with the deepest regrets, but the most urgent call to action, that we call for the non-renewal of the contracts for President John Wilson and members of his senior team, and for the formation of a search committee to commence surveying for a permanent replacement for the position of President of Morehouse College.
This letter comes at a key time in the cultural history of America and Morehouse, alike. Similar to the politics of larger America, we have neither space nor time to wait, pray, or hope for the best outcome. As the premier moral compass for countless African-American men, leaders, and U.S. Presidents, the president of Morehouse College must stand as the breathing example of opportunities, steadiness, and vision. These characteristics, and countless others, are not descriptive of President Wilson.
Since the installment of President Wilson, the alumni have felt largely disconnected from the happenings at Morehouse. 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. Customarily, the Morehouse Magazine would be where alumni would find information and explanations for items such as the uptick & exceptionally high acceptance rate of 76%, our Moody credit rating drops, our US News Rankings fall to #159, alongside our HBCU Digest rating drop to #4, and our Wall Street Journal drop to #140. All of these occurrences have happened on Wilson’s watch and has compounded the weakening of the Morehouse reputation and status and created the current tense negative alumni sentiments in regards to President Wilson.
From the student side, we have seen his decree dissolve the Hopps Scholars Program, with fully-funded scholarships by the United States Department of Defense, which funded 186 scholars with 100 of the Hopps Scholars obtaining doctoral degrees. Adding insult to injury, President Wilson and Provost Garikai Campbell have actively refocused on STEM by the demolition of health professions programming, which has historically sent significant numbers of students to medical and dental schools. In addition, students have been obligated to live on campus beyond their freshman year and rack up more charges in room & board fees. We understand this measure as reallocating the school’s financial burdens onto the backs of parents and students to be unethical.
Lastly, President Wilson does not engage in collaborative communication. He is not a community and confidence builder, nor has he built the relationships necessary to facilitate fundraising. On campus, morale is at an all-time low among students, faculty, and staff due to a lack of input and being marginalized. The voice of the campus is not considered in affairs, which is demonstrated by the exclusive selection process of commencement & baccalaureate speakers, the lack of involvement in theme & logo selection for the 150th college anniversary, and the continued omissions of contributions of past Presidents in official literature and programs. In the same vein, President Wilson single-handedly has executed the largest turnover and restructuring ever in Morehouse history of employees in the Admissions and the Recruitment departments.
With the clearest of minds, the positioning of Morehouse, internally and externally, has been corrupted, disemboweled, and left voiceless. 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.
At the senior crown forum, a fair share of alumni had the privilege of hearing Dr. Anne Watts proclaim “Are you too, Morehouse? We now send you out as the light into the darkness.” That calling required us to be vested in the forward progress of Morehouse and to speak truth to power. The alumni of Morehouse College once more accept this responsibility and move to express our vote of no-confidence and request the termination of the contract of President John Wilson and members of his Senior Team.
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.
My one and only experience with the current Morehouse President was less than fruitful. I was participating in a forum with physicians who had graduated from Morehouse College to raise funds and reinvigorate the Health Careers Society led by the late pioneer Dr. Thomas J. Blocker. Apparently our forum was running behind schedule and the classroom in Nabrit-Mapp-McBay was needed for a subsequent meeting. Well as you know, there are two large, mirror imaged classrooms on the entry level floor of Nabritt-Mapp-McBay. Dr. Wilson unashamedly interrupted the meeting and declared that the meeting was running over time and that we should vacate. Keep in mind, the second classroom was empty and available.
This was my introduction to Dr. Wilson. It seems that this would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Dr. Wilson to introduce himself and discuss his mission and platform as the Morehouse president. Instead he used this as an opportunity to display his so-called power as the president of Morehouse College. Well, this room of alumni physicians (capable of donating time and money) was not intimidated however. We completed our business at hand, on our time, and then adjourned.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wilson and his constituents utilized the classroom across the hall as it was obvious they grew in frustration with our unwillingness to end our meeting.
This was my first and last experience with Dr. Wilson. This certainly does not represent the type of Morehouse president that should lead our prestigious institution.