Bethune-Cookman University announced Tuesday that its president, Edison O. Jackson, has retired. The abrupt move comes in midst of reports of the historically Black institution being mired in mounting debt exacerbated by the controversial financing of a new dorm.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal recently published a series of articles that documented the cost of the new dorm at more than $300 million over 40 years of financing after the original projected cost of $72 million ballooned to $85 million. In addition, the newspaper also reported that Bethune-Cookman has been operating at a loss and borrowing from its endowment.
The university also drew criticism last spring after Jackson invited U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who had earlier said that HBCUs were pioneers of school choice, to speak at commencement. There were protests outside the venue and some students turned their backs as DeVos delivered her shortened address.
Jackson has led Bethune-Cookman since 2013. The Board of Trustees, which accepted Jackson’s decision at a meeting on Tuesday, said an effective date of retirement would be determined later.