For nearly 18 years, I have been a member of the Morgan State University Board of Regents serving as its secretary (and member of the executive committee) for the past four years. I am also a proud alumna of Morgan, the mother of two Morgan graduates, a resident of Morgan Park (the community contiguous to the campus) and the granddaughter of the late Carl J. Murphy (founding Morgan Board member 1939-1953 and Board chair 1953-1967) for whom the University’s Fine Arts Center is named.
On December 4, 2012, Morgan’s 15–member Board of Regents voted 8-7 not to renew President David Wilson’s contract. Since that time, many students, faculty, staff, alumni, legislators, community members and Dr. Wilson have asked why the Board voted as it did. While I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the Board, here are the reasons for my vote to renew Dr. Wilson’s contract:
1. No documented facts were presented to support the non renewal of the contract;
2. At its closed session on November 6, the board unanimously accepted the report of the committee that evaluated the President’s performance, consistent with the metrics previously approved by the Board;
3. December 4th was the first time the chair openly shared his list of concerns about Dr. Wilson’s leadership style with the full board;
4. It takes more than two and a half years to change a culture in any organization and Morgan is no exception;
5. The Board did not previously communicate its dissatisfaction with President Wilson’s work or work ethic;
6. In my opinion, Dr. Wilson was and is committed to the mission, the students, the faculty, the staff and the success of Morgan;
7. Morgan, under Dr. Wilson’s leadership, is going in the right direction; and
8. If a presidential search takes place at this time, the University loses valuable momentum in key areas such as the capital campaign, new programs and partnerships, student recruitment and retention, alumni giving, federal grants, parental, faculty, student and community confidence.
The Morgan State University Board of Regents is comprised of a talented and committed group of student, business, government and community leaders for whom I have the utmost respect. If well-researched, documented facts had been presented to support the action taken on December 4, I also may have voted not to renew Dr. Wilson’s contract. However, since that was not the case, I support keeping Dr. David Wilson as president of Morgan State University. Furthermore, as I have done privately, I now publicly urge Board Chair Evans to call a special Board meeting by December 31, 2012 and afford Dr. Wilson the opportunity to address the full board.
Finally, let me address the speculations that recent incidents on campus played a role in the Board’s decision regarding Dr. Wilson. The Board is very concerned about the safety and security of the campus and is saddened by acts of violence on college campuses in general, and Morgan in particular. However, for the record, these tragic and unfortunate incidents were not a part of the president’s contract renewal deliberations on December 4.
Rev. Frances (Toni) Murphy Draper, D.Min.
Dr. Draper is the pastor of the Freedom Temple AME Zion Church (Brooklyn Park, MD) and the immediate past president of the Afro-American Newspapers. Her term on the Morgan State University Board of Regents ends June 30, 2013.