May 25, 2021

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward

Congratulations are in order for Dr. William Tate IV for being selected as the next President at Louisiana State University.  In July 2021, he will assume the dual roles of Chancellor of the main campus and President of the LSU system institutions.  This will mark the first ever Black President at a Southeastern Conference (SEC) university. This is something that should have happened by now (just ask the folks at Tennessee and South Carolina).  It’s quite frustrating that 20 plus years into the 21st Century and we’re still achieving “firsts”. Tate will also be one of the few African Americans who lead universities in the South that are not HBCUs. We still have work to do.  But for now, we celebrate down in Baton Rouge!  A big thank you to our own AABHE member, Dr. Jessica Jones from the LSU Eunice campus who served on the search committee that recruited Dr. Tate to the bayou.  Way to geaux, “Double J”!

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Congratulations are also due our own AABHE board member, Dr. Mordecai Brownlee who has been selected as the next President of Community College of Aurora (CCA). We are so proud of Dr. Brownlee as he assumes his inaugural presidency this summer.  If you have worked with Mordecai you know that CCA is getting a smart, hard-working, engaging leader.  And you also know that this is but another step in an amazing career of executive leadership in higher education.  All of us with AABHE and certainly the LMI team and alums are beaming with pride for one of our own.  CCA, you did good to get this great brother! 


And just as we take the aforementioned two steps forward, we find ourselves taking one step backwards. Which at least is better than the traditional way that idiom is arranged (one forward and two back).  Last week the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees denied tenure for a newly hired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones.  It is very common for someone with her credentials (which also includes a MacArthur Genius Grant) to receive tenure upon being hired. Hannah-Jones, who created the highly acclaimed New York Times “1619 Project” was recruited to UNC as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism. Previous Knight Chair hires have been hired with tenure. Today the matter was returned to the Board for reconsideration later next month.  It is the expectation of AABHE that the board will do right by her and that we can then take three full steps forward… “Mother, may I?” “Yes, you may.”

Stay well, stay safe, stay COVID smart, and continue to do good work,


"It’s all about the students",

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE


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