July 15, 2020

"Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired"


There is a new term going around.  It is called, “pandemic fatigue”.  If you are not familiar with this term, that’s ok because I am sure you are experiencing it anyway. Civil Rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer, put it like this, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  It is actually inscribed on the tombstone of the late advocate for women’s and black people’s rights.  She was tired of the constant frustration of trying to eliminate Jim Crow and other debilitating practices.  She was tired of the lack of progress.  Today, so many of us are also tired of the national, local, and individual failures in the response to the coronavirus.  We’re also tired of not being able to do so many of the things we did before this started.  Some of us are tired of explaining what Black Lives Matter means and so much more.  But do not be confused, now is not the time to give in.  We must persist and everyone must follow health guidelines if we are to get out of this.  Yes, we are tired, but at least we are not sick.

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On another note, AABHE is embarking on a new model of administration that will include hiring a part-time Executive Director, a fundraising consultant, and a marketing team.  These moves will position AABHE to further deliver on our goal to be the premier organization for Blacks in higher education.  The Executive Board has agreed to hire Dr. Odelet West as the Interim Executive Director for this inaugural position.  Her board work these past few years align closely with what we are seeking in this role.  She will assume this new position effective August 1 and will effectively step off of the Board as Vice President - President Elect.  Additionally, I have appointed Dr. Evelyn Fields, our Immediate Past President as our Parliamentarian.  The Exec Board approved and she accepted.  Thank you to Drs. West and Fields for stepping up to serve.

Two additional moves are necessary to accomplish this interim Executive Director implementation. I have asked Dr. Kim Smith to serve out Odelet's unexpired term as VP-President Elect and Dr. Jerrel Wade to serve out Kim's unexpired term as Secretary.  Both of these have been confirmed by the board.  These unexpired terms end in March 2021 so both positions will join the slate of open Board positions to be voted on in November of this year. We look forward to the nominating committee presenting the full slate in the fall.  As a result of these new positions starting in March 2021, one further step is required.  I have agreed to serve an extra year as President allowing the new VP-President Elect to have a full year in that role prior to March 2022.

While this may seem like a lot of moving pieces, it will certainly position us to maintain continuity in our Board structure while simultaneously enriching the organization with the additional support positions.  AABHE will then be able to fully actualize our potential as we serve our members and constituencies.  Thanks again to all who have stepped up to serve.  Thanks also to each of you for all you do for our organization and for others in higher education.  

Continue to do good work.


  • Our Writing Bootcamp is continuing and participants have been quite busy with their respective writings.  Stay tuned for future updates.

  • Again, regardless of what restrictions are lifted in your area, please remember that we are not out of the woods yet.  COVID-19 has ravaged the African American community at a significantly higher rate than other communities.  Protect yourself and be your own judge for when it’s safe to return to certain activities.  Please remember to stay safe.  The updated guidelines from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

“It’s all about the students”,

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