HOLLY SPRINGS, MS – Rust College, a historically black, coeducational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1886, has identified three candidates who are seeking the presidential seat in replacement of outgoing president Dr. David Buckley, who plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

Beckley, an alumnus of the College, has served as Rust’s president for 26 years and has the distinction of being the longest-tenured senior college president in Mississippi. He was appointed as president in 1993, and before the appointment, he served as the 12th president of Wiley College from 1987-1993.

The Search and Advisory Committee announced virtual open sessions with the candidates for April 20-22, 2020, with the invitation extended to faculty/staff, students, and alumni/community members via zoom video conference. During each session, candidates provided a brief opening statement then moved to Q and A session.

The candidates:

Dr. Joel V. Harrell began his post-secondary educational training at Rust College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science, graduating in three years with honors. He went on to later earn his masters in public policy and administration and a doctorate in higher education administration from Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. Further graduate work was done at Memphis State University and the Atlanta University Center.

Dr. Harrell has over forty years of experience in the higher education administrative arena having served in senior administrative positions at Mary Holmes College, West Point, MS; Knoxville College, Knoxville, TN; Mississippi State University, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL. Prior to the beginning of his federal government career, his most recent on-campus position was Vice President of Enrollment Services and Student Affairs at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Harrell has also served as a consultant at the regional and national levels and has delivered numerous presentations and papers related to his work. His primary areas of expertise are Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs Administration, higher education Enrollment Management and higher educational information systems project management/functional user expert (Ellucian, PeopleSoft).

Most recently, Dr. Harrell served as the Deputy Director, School Experience Group and the Director of the Minority Serving and Under Resourced School Division within the U.S. Department of Education/Federal Student Aid. In this capacity he with responsible for providing leadership to a team that supported and provided special services, training and technical assistance to over 6,000 institutions that participated in the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs. He also provided leadership and strategic vision for Federal Student Aids outreach efforts to Historically Black College and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribally Controlled Colleges and University and Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Predominately Black Institutions, and Alaska Natives/Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions that participated in the Title IV Federal Student Aid Programs.

Dr. Said L. Sewell currently serves as Director at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to Sewell joining the A.U.C.C., the world’s oldest and largest association of historically black colleges and universities, he was the Vice President for Student Affairs at Morehouse College. He has also served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lincoln University in Missouri, the Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Kent State University (Kent, OH), and the Executive Director of the Academic Success Center at Fort Valley State University. He has had faculty appointments in the Political Science Departments at the Lincoln University, University of West Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Nebraska, Fort Valley State University, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Albany State University. Sewell is the founder and current Executive Director of the Center for African-American Males: Research, Success, and Leadership, Inc. – a research and modeling center for the advancement of African-American males.

Sewell, a native of Houston, Texas, entered Morehouse College at the age of 16 and graduated in 1992 with a B.A. in political science. His formal training also include a master of public administration in public policy from Texas Southern University, and a Ph.D. From Clark Atlanta University in political science. Because of his work as a scholar and renowned professor, he has been honored with his own day in Madison County (Georgia), Fulton County (Georgia), the City of Stone Mountain (Georgia), and Atlanta (Georgia), as well as numerous awards. The University of System Georgia’s African-American Male Initiative Best Practices Leadership Award, The Doris Harris Humanitarian Award from the Tau Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Visionary Award from the Follow Me Foundation, Inc., The ETA Tau Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Leadership Award, The National Conference of Black Political Scientists’ Teacher of the Year Award, The University of West Georgia’s Student Government Association’s Jim Mathis Outstanding Faculty Member, and the American Political Science Association and the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society’s Outstanding Teaching Award in Political Science, and in the Southern Region for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Brother of the Year, to name a few. In addition, Diverse: Issues of Higher Education named him as its – Top 12 Emerging Scholars in America and Georgia Trend Magazine acknowledge him as one of its – Top 40 under 40; Georgia’s Best and Brightest.

Sewell, who is an ordained Baptist minister, is active in several professional, civic, and social organization. He is chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for African American Males: Research, Success, and Leadership, Inc., Past First Vice President for the Georgia State Conference of the N.A.A.C.P., and the former National Chairman of the Leadership Development Institute for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Sewell is a member of the Board of Directors for Leadership Portage County, the Board of Directors for Project GRAD – Akron, the College Board’s National College Scholarship Service Assembly Council, the Charles Wesley Foundation – Rho Pi Lambda Chapter, Boys and Girls Club of America, the 100 Black Men, the N.A.A.C.P., and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

A native of Queens, New York, Ivy R. Taylor, has spent twenty years in San Antonio, Texas, leading efforts to connect people to opportunity. She has been an educator, affordable housing advocate, and elected official. Ivy served as Mayor of San Antonio, Texas for three years and as a member of San Antonio City Council for five years.

Ivy’s career began as a City of San Antonio employee. She then served as Vice President of Merced Housing Texas where she worked to improve family stability for low-income apartment community residents. During her time working with residents to those apartments, she became convinced of the need to provide more access to higher education to help low income families in achieving stability. She spent six years as a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Public Administration Department. Ivy also served on the San Antonio Planning Commission and was previously a Commissioner for the San Antonio Renewal Agency.

While serving as council member, Ivy led a significant community revitalization effort. Through her leadership, the Eastside, a distressed area of San Antonio, was awarded over $50 million in grants. This effort included a large scale community plan, and execution with many partners that resulted the new affordable housing, new educational and community programs and enhanced public investments in an area that had stuffed from disinvestment.

Ivy is a positive community role model and has worked in partnership with many community agencies to improve outcomes for families. She served on the Board of Directors of Healthy Futures of Texas, which works to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy in San Antonio and Texas. She also served on the Board of Directors of Big Brother/Big Sisters of South Texas, which provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one to one mentoring relationships. Additional past service includes stints on the boards of the San Antonio Education Partnership, Project Quest, San Antonio Zoological Association and Haven for Hope.

In 1998, Ivy arrived at Yale University as a first generation college student. She majored in American Studies and graduated in 1992. Ivy also obtained a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998. She is currently enrolled in an executive doctorate program in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania and will receive an Ed.D. in August 2020. Her dissertation research focused on board governance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Ivy credits her academic success to the strong foundation, faith, and values instilled in her by her mother, a North Carolina native, who never had the chance to pursue her educational dreams.

While serving as Mayor and supporting the UNCF, Ivy joined the Board of Trustees for Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU in Austin, Texas. This sparked additional interest in higher education and supporting HBCUs. She is also on the board of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, a minority serving institution. Ivy is committed to changing lives, improving communities and reducing economic inequality through working in higher education. She currently works as a consultant with J.L. Powers and Associates. 

The committee has plans to have a new president in place by the summer with Beckley staying on for a year as a consultant, according to a source.

For more information about Rust College’s Presidential Search, visit www.rustcollege.edu/home/presidential-search/.

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About Rust College

Rust College is a historically black, co-educational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to offer quality programs in business, education, humanities, science and math, and social science to prepare students for leadership and service in a global society. For more information, visit www.rustcollege.edu.

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