After Morgan State University’s Board of Regents voted last week that they were not going to renew President David Wilson’s contract, students — both former and current, have already started to protest by signing an online petition in the hopes that the board would overturn the unfavorable and unexpected decision. Since the board has yet to comment on the motivation for Wilson’s dismissal, students are swarming faculty with phone calls, letters and office appearances until they receive adequate answers.
Morgan State SGA President Shaquaya McKenzie commented, “As students, we have seen the accomplishments and efforts of Dr.
Wilson and he is by far a student-centered leader. So, if we do not find the explanation sufficient enough to override Dr. Wilson’s superb professional record, we shall seek intervention.”
McKenzie certainly sought “intervention” as she influenced and joined over 500 students, graduates and some faculty in signing an online petition against the board’s decision. The petition stated, “The students of Morgan State University have a voice and want to keep our current president in office.” Students continued to recruit several of their classmates and friends on social media networks Twitter and Facebook by posting links asking the Morgan State community, “Do you want an explanation from the Board of Regents? If so, please sign this petition.”
The petition included Wilson’s top five accomplishments during his presidency at Morgan State. His accomplishments were taken from a letter that Wilson addressed on Monday to the campus in his response to the board’s decision. While students and faculty weren’t taking lightly the board’s controversial meeting, President Wilson’s response has been mildly reserved and quite vague. In his letter addressed to the student body, he wrote, “It is very unfortunate that, based on what I have heard, I am being punished for having a top research university in this nation take note of our achievements at Morgan.”
Reportedly, the board members voted Wilson out by an 8 to 7 count. Morgan board members, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Kweisi Mfume, continually referred all inquiries to Chairman Dallas R. Evans. In lieu of a thorough response, Evans sent a press release to the Morgan student body thanking Wilson for his last two and half years of service to Morgan.
Evans wrote, “Morgan State University remains committed to its mission of supporting, empowering and preparing high-quality, diverse graduates to lead the world.”
With Wilson’s contract expected to end June 30, 2013 and no official reason for his release, students quickly were finding loopholes that could potentially sway the end results. According to SGA President McKenzie, who partnered with several faculty members and administration officials, research indicated that the laws of the Board of Regents stipulate that board member voting along with government intervention is the only official method of overturning the university’s president.
President Wilson echoed the rule in his Facebook posts responding to students: “Thank you for your support of our work here at Morgan State University. Should you desire to make your thoughts known in wider capacity, you may contact Morgan State University’s Board of Regents or Governor Martin O’Malley.”
As a result, SGA, members of the student body and faculty drafted a letter today addressed to Gov. O’Malley, pleading for his approval in overturning the board’s decision. In the meantime, Morgan State released a job vacancy, hoping to replace the president by the end of June 2013. However, students have yet to receive a response or any insight into the new president, they still remain hopeful while also questioning the morality of the abrupt and peculiar decision.
“I’m wondering what politics are behind this? I need an explanation from all of the board members. … I’m going to make it my duty to assure that something is done by the decision made by the board of regents,” commented DeJanee Fennell, political science major at Morgan State.
Fennell, along with several of her classmates, were caught off guard by the decision in the wake of Wilson’s newly released plans of Morgan’s growth agenda having been broadcast to the Baltimore Business Journal on Friday. With plans of building a $72 million business school featuring a stock trading floor, updated classrooms, courses for entrepreneurship and a hospitality program, the school seemed to be tracking significant progress.
“I love Morgan! I love it because we take so many students who enter this institution as freshmen with raw, unrefined talent and have them emerge from this special place four or five years later as gems in the state’s and the nation’s crown. I stand proudly on the body of work we have been able to achieve during my tenure,” remarked President Wilson in his letter to the school.