(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson is one of eight presidents participating in the United Negro College Fund and the Higher Education Leadership Foundation’s inaugural Presidential Leadership Institute cohort (PLI). The cohort is made possible by the Kresge Foundation.
According to a release, the PLI will intentionally engage presidents at HBCUs and predominately Black institutions as they navigate their first two years of leadership.
“I think this is a remarkable opportunity to connect with a diverse group of university leaders whose overarching goal is to ensure transformational outcomes for students,” said Hudson, who was named president of JSU in November 2020 after serving as acting for eight months.
“The PLI serves as an agency in which we can exchange ideas and practices that aid us in being effective leaders in the pursuit of academic excellence for our institutions,” he added.
This year’s cohort includes:
- Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., Jackson State University
- Vernell Bennett-Fairs, Ed.D, LeMoyne-Owen College
- Bobbie Knight, J.D., Miles College
- Dr. Kevin James, Ed.D., Morris Brown College
- Cheryl Evans Jones, Ph.D., Paine College
- Ivy R. Taylor, Ed.D., Rust College
- Nicole Pride, Ed.D., West Virginia State University
- Ronnie Hopkins, Ph.D., Voorhees College
UNCF and H.E.L.F. will work with the cohort of eight presidents to deepen relationships and share best practices among current and former HBCU leaders. Through their engagement, the cohort will deepen their ability to balance internal and external leadership roles, articulate their vision and enlist others to support visionary institutional change.
The group will meet in June and December of 2021. Board members at each participating institution will be invited to join UNCF’s Executive Leadership Series, offering professional development and networking for board members at HBCUs and PBIs.
“The curriculum assists presidents during their first year of leading HBCUs,” said Dr. Herman Felton, J.D., Ph.D., principal of H.E.L.F. and president of Wiley College. “Our research-based program utilizes best practices that complement and enhance the skills these presidents have developed throughout their leadership career.”
Felton explained that H.E.L.F.’s “dynamic” faculty and senior fellows have a wide variety of backgrounds and are from higher education institutions across the nation.
“They have completed successful tenures as presidents, and some have served multiple presidencies at public and private institutions,” said Felton.
Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, described HBCUs as hubs of thought and leadership, which produce the best and the brightest Black leaders.
“This leadership starts at the top with executive officers who are dedicated to continuing the legacy of HBCUs as spaces of transformation and innovation. This is why the work to build capacity and leadership within our HBCU presidents is so important; we will continue to afford them with opportunities that illustrate their diverse skillsets while preparing them for leading their respective campuses.”
During the summer, H.E.L.F. will host the inaugural PLI cohort for a series of trainings that will focus on the academic enterprise with an intentional focus on finances, brand management and value proposition, accreditation, institutional effectiveness and the nuances of situational leadership. The convening will take place at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.