Retired administrator Dr. Malvin Williams has been named interim president of Alcorn State University following the unexpected death this weekend of president Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr.
A student found Bristow, who was known to jog every night, dead on a campus track around 9 p.m. Saturday. The student couldn’t get a response from Bristow, 57, and called campus police.
According to a university spokesman, autopsy results indicating a cause of death have not been released.
ASU’s board of directors named Williams, the former vice president for academic affairs, to the post at an emergency meeting Sunday night. He will serve until a permanent replacement is found.
Bristow’s death shocked the higher education community, which remembered him as a skilled leader and strong advocate for young Black men.
“Clinton Bristow was a man of unmeasured vision and unparalleled courage in his fight for equal treatment of all HBCUs by funding and regulatory agencies,” says Alabama State University President Joe Lee. “He always exhibited a strong sense of urgency in dealing with the plight of the African-American male. I have lost a good friend; and we have lost a giant in higher education.”
Bristow, named president of the university in 1995, was a board member of the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, where Lee serves as board chairman.
Under Bristow’s leadership, ASU increased the number of students seeking professional degrees, especially in the nursing and teaching programs. The school also gained national attention for attracting a large number of Russian students. Bristow had a model program for recruiting and retaining Black men, which has been replicated at other colleges, says Lezli Baskerverille, president of NAFEO.
“Dr. Bristow brought a number of things to the table. He combined the best of corporate management and decision making with the nurturing and support of an HBCU environment,” she says.
Dwayne Ashley, president & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, also honored Bristow’s contribution to the higher education community.
“Dr. Bristow’s involvement, commitment and contributions to TMSF’s mission of preparing young men and women for leadership were tremendous,” said Ashley in a statement.
“On a more personal note, it was both inspirational and extremely gratifying to work with Dr. Bristow over the years,” he said. “He was a leader, a visionary and a passionate educator who truly followed a personal mission of advancing higher education as well as building a greater appreciation for the contributions of HBCUs. He will be missed greatly by the TMSF family and the entire higher education community.”
Bristow earned a bachelor’s, doctorate and law degrees from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from Governors State University. He is survived by a daughter and a fiancé, as well as extended family living in Alabama, Mississippi, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
— Shilpa Banerji
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