The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin
The dynamics of higher education in America today are driving the demand for a new set of skills and capabilities for tomorrow’s leaders. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) provide a high-quality education to low-income, first-generation, and academically underprepared students. Also, these institutions as such serves a diverse population while maintaining the role as the backbone of higher education and well underrepresented for more than a 140-year history.
As the President and CEO, Founder at the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF), a non-profit educational advocacy organization for private and public HBCUs and MSIs, leaderships plays a substantial role in the management of the day-to-day operations at an higher education institution. This fourth selected group of leaders has proven their responsibilities for shaping policies, changing perspectives, and making decisions that affect millions of individuals lives in the higher education space and the daily needs of what an HBCU or Minority-Serving Institutions contributes academically.
The organization has compiled a list of ten chancellors and presidents that currently serve an HBCU or MSI who plays a prominent and influential role in leadership and displays the characteristics of the following responsibilities in the progression of effectively moving an institution forward.
Demetrius Johnson, Jr.
President and CEO, Founder
Wayne A.I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, F.A.C.S.
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick was appointed the seveenth president of Howard University in 2014. He previously served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer. Most recently, the Howard University of Trustees selected Dr. Frederick to serve as the distinguished Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery.
A distinguished scholar and administrator, Dr. Frederick has advanced Howard University’s commitment to student opportunity, academic innovation, public service, and fiscal stability. Early in this tenure as president, Dr. Frederick pursued initiatives to streamline and strengthen the university operations. He has overseen a series of reform efforts, including the expansion of academic offerings, establishing innovative programs to support student success and the modernization of university facilities.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Frederick was admitted to Howard University’s B.S./M.D. dual degree program. He completed the requirements for both degree and his medical degree by the age of 22. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business in 2011.
Dr. Frederick is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles book chapters, abstracts, and editorials and is a widely recognized expert on disparities in healthcare and medical education. He continues to operate and also gives lectures to second-year medical students and surgical residents of Howard University’s College of Medicine. His medical research focuses on narrowing racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in cancer-care outcomes, especially about gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Frederick also devotes his time to writing and speaking on salient topics in higher education including the impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, campus intellectual diversity, the underrepresentation of African American men in medical school and gender equity on college campuses.
Dr. Frederick has received various awards honoring his scholarship and service. In April 2020, Dr. Frederick was chosen as the first-ever recipient of the Educator Award by the Lowell F. Hawthorne Foundation, Inc. Last year, Dr. Frederick was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for his contributions to the medical field. In January 2017, the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors elected Dr. Frederick to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He was presented with the Diaspora Public Diplomacy Leadership Award by the Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for his contributions to strengthening Trinidad and Tobago-United States bilateral relations through excellence in global educational leadership. In 2015, Dr. Frederick was also recognized by the then president of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for his appointment as President of Howard University. Most recently, Dr. Frederick was appointed to the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Humana Inc. Dr. Frederick is a member of surgical and medical associations, including the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Frederick has also been featured as one of “America’s Best Physicians” by Black Enterprise Magazine. He was named one of EBONY Magazine’s “Power 100,” and recognized as a “Super Doctor” in The Washington Post Magazine. In 2017, he was named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine and in 2015 was named “Male President of the Year” by HBCU Digest and was inducted into the St. Mary’s College, Port of Spain, Trinidad Hall of Fame.
David Kwabena Wilson, Ed.D.
Morgan State University
David Kwabena Wilson, Ed.D., the 10th president of Morgan State University, has a long record of accomplishment and more than 30 years of experience in higher education administration. Dr. Wilson holds four academic degrees: a B.S. in political science and an M.S. in education fro Tuskegee University; and Ed.M. in educational planning and administration from Harvard University and an Ed.D. in administration, planning and social policy, also from Harvard. He came to Morgan State University from the University of Wisconsin, where he was chancellor of both the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Before that, he held numerous other administrative posts in academia, including: vice president for University Outreach and associate provost at Auburn University, and associate provost of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Dr. Wilson has authored two books and more than 20 articles published in scholarly journals. Among the many honors and recognition’s he has received for his work: he was named one of the nation’s 100 leaders in higher education by the American Association of Higher Education in 1998, was selected as one of The Daily Record newspaper’s Influential Marylanders for 2011, and was honored by the University of Alabama with an award for outstanding leadership in engaged scholarship in April 2011.
In January 2011, the Lumina Foundation elected Dr. Wilson to serve on its Board of Directors. Prior to this election, the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology has appointed him to serve a three-year term as a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology. He is a former chairman of the HBCU/China Network, a member of the Maryland Cybersecurity Council and the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Governing Board and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In 2010, former President Barack Obama appointed him to his 11-member Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Wilson served on the Board of United Way of Central Maryland.
Dr. Wilson’s achievements as leader Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University have clearly been strong, but it is the character he brings to the presidency, a character shaped by the intangibles of his background, that is perhaps most impressive of all. Dr. Wilson grew up with 10 siblings on a sharecropper farm outside the small town of McKinley, Ala. Through hard work, tenacity and the encouragement of his father and his teachers, he became the first person in his family to attend college. Dr. Wilson builds upon that legacy as the proud father of Nyere Brown Wilson, a current student majoring in business administration at Morgan.
Dr. Wilson’s educational philosophy is to put students’ experience first. As a leader, he is a consensus builder and a strong believer in transparency of process. His goal is to make Morgan a leader in producing the next wave of innovators in the U.S.
Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Ph.D.
On February 8, 2006, the Livingstone College Board of Trustees named Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins., the school’s 12th president. A longtime educator and administrator, Dr. Jenkins was chosen from among five finalists.
Dr. Jenkins previously served as president of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida from 1997 to 2005. During his tenure, the college expanded its faculty and broke ground on its first building in decades while reducing its debt from $8.5 million to $500,000 in three years and growing its enrollment from 300 students to 1,300 students.
Prior to his stint at Edward Waters College, Jenkins served as vice chancellor and chancellor of Elizabeth City State University from 1977 to 1995. While there, he secured the support of the State Legislature of North Carolina for construction of six major buildings on campus. He also launched a $5 million capital campaign, completing the fund-raising one year ahead of schedule.
Jenkins earned a bachelors degree in biology from Elizabeth City State University in 1965. Prior to returning to Selma, NC, where he grew up and attended the public schools, Jenkins earned a teaching certification in biology from Howard University and taught general science, biology, and chemistry in several Centerville, MD, high schools. He received his M.S. in biology from Purdue University in 1970, and his doctorate in biology education one year later.
A sampling of his affiliations, both past and present, include the North Carolina Academy of Science, National Alliance of Black School Educators, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Conference of Academic Deans, American Biology Teachers Association, American Association of Higher Education, and the American Association of University Professors. Additionally, Jenkins has been appointed by the Governors of North Carolina at the Humanities Committee, Board of Science and Technology, Committee of Public Understanding of Science and Technology, and the Oversight Committee for Official Labor Market Information.
During his distinguished career, Jenkins has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards. These include memberships in the scholastic honor societies of Alpha Kappa Mu, Phi Delta Kappa, and Beta Beta Biological Society; selections as one of the “Outstanding Personalities of the South” and one of the “Outstanding Young Men in America.” He is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Glenda B. Glover, Ph.D., JD, CPA
Tennessee State University
Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover began serving as President of Tennessee State University on January 2, 2013. She has advanced a five-point vision that includes: (1) academic progress and customer service, (2) fund-raising and partnerships, (3) diversity and inclusion, (4) shared governance, and (5) business outreach. Dr. Glover was formerly the Dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., where she led the College of Business throughout the accreditation process, and spearheaded the implementation of the nation’s first Ph.D. in Business at an HBCU. She is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and is one of two African American women to hold the Ph.D.-CPA-JD combination in the nation.
Dr. Glover’s educational development began as a student at Tennessee State University, where she majored in mathematics. After graduating with honors with a bachelor of science degree, she pursued her master of business administration at Clark Atlanta University. She then completed her doctorate in business form George Washington University, and later completed her law degree from Georgetown University.
Prior to joining Jackson State University, Dr. Glover served as Chairperson of the Department of Accounting at Howard University. Her past employment also includes positions as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of an engineering firm, a tax manager at a major public utility company, and an accountant with a Big-Four CPA firm.
Dr. Glover has been a corporate board member for three publicly traded corporations. These include Citigroup-Student Loan Corporation, Pinnacle Financial Partners and First Guaranty Bancshares. She served as a member or chair of the Audit Committee on each board, or as the board’s financial expert.
Dr. Glover is the author of more than one hundred articles and papers, and is regarded as one of the nation’s experts on corporate governance. She is a member of several professional, civic, and non-profit organizations, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honorees. She also serves as the International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college woman. Dr. Glover will lead the 110 year old organization from 2018-2022.
Most recently Dr. Glover was the 2018 recipient of the HBCU President of the Year award from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. She was also a recipient of the 2019 Female President of the Year Award from the HBCU Digiest. Under her leadership at AKA, for the last three years, the sorority has raised, annually, in excess of $1 million per day to benefit HBCUs.
Kent J. Smith, Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. Kent J. Smith, Jr. began his tenure as the 16th president of Langston University in 2012 and also serves as professor of education.
Dr. Smith has more than twenty years of progressive administrative experience in higher education. Under his leadership, Langston University has seen record highs in fundraising, admissions applications, and freshman enrollment. He is committed to developing quality academic programs focused on retention and completion for all students, particularly those from underserved populations. A visionary and inclusive leader, Dr. Smith is passionate about collaboration with students to shape their learning environment in a holistic way.
Prior to leading Langston University, Dr. Smith served as vice president for student affairs, chief student affairs officer, and assistant professor of education at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is a former dean of students at Auburn University in Alabama, director of multicultural affairs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and was an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University. While an adjunct professor of education at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, he served as assistant director of black student services.
Dr. Smith has been recognized as a leader within the state of Oklahoma and among his peers nationally in higher education, Dr. Smith currently serves as Chair of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Council of 1890 Presidents, representing 19 universities, Chair of the Red River Conference, Council of Presidents. Locally, Dr. Smith is a member of the Logan County Economic Development Council, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Campus Safety and Security Task Force.
Dr. Smith earned a bachelor of science in secondary education, a master of education in educational administration and supervision from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a doctorate in education and human resources studies, with a concentration in educational administration and student affairs, from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Adena Williams Loston, Ph.D.
St. Philip’s College
Adena Williams Loston, Ph.D., serves as the 14th President of St. Philip’s College our nation’s only Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution. She assumed the reins on March 1, 2007, on the occasion of St. Philip’s 109th anniversary.
She previously served as the Director of Education and Special Assistant for Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate for the Goddard Space Fight Center, Wallops Fight Facility and Chief Education Officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at its Headquarters in Washington, DC. Her initial appointment at NASA was as the Associate Administer for Education on October 28, 2002, and prior to joining the Agency, she served as the NASA Administrator’s Senior Education Advisor starting in September 2002. As NASA’s senior education official, she was responsible for structuring the Office of Education, providing executive leadership, policy direction, functional management, and guidance in coordinating the Agency’s overall efforts to organize and enhance its education investments and portfolio nationally and internationally for its Headquarter operations, mission directorates and 10 field centers. Dr. Loston was responsible for a $230 million budget (including earmarks) and directed policy for $1.3 billion.
Dr. Loston has served as President San Jacinto College South, Executive Dean/Provost in the El Paso Community College District, Dean of Vocational Education, Budgets and Facilities, and Dean Professional Programs at Santa Monica College, and has also served in other administrative educational capacities for the past 39 years.
Dr. Loston is the product of a historically black college, Alcorn State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1973. She receive her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Bowling Green State University in 1974 and 1979 respectively. She also attended the Institute for Educational management at Harvard University in 1996; the Oxford Roundtable at Oxford University in 2001; and the Wharton School of Business in 2005.
For more than forty years Dr. Loston has been a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In the January 2018 issue “Woman a Celebration” Dr. Loston was listed as one of the Women who Influence and Help Shape Events in the San Antonio Area.
M. Christopher Brown II
Kentucky State University
M. Christopher Brown II is the 18th President of Kentucky State University and Founder of the Atwood Institute on Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal.
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Brown earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from South Carolina State University, a Master of Science in education policy and evaluation from the University of Kentucky, and a Doctor of Philosophy in higher education from the Pennsylvania State University.
After earning his Ph.D., Dr. Brown joined the faculties of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and The Pennsylvania State University where he earned tenure. During a professional leave of absence, Dr. Brown served as executive director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund (FDPRI/UNCF), director at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and vice president at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).
Dr. Brown was named professor and dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas before appointed a university professor, executive vice president and provost at the historic Fisk University. He also served as the 18th president of the nation’s first historically black land-grant institution – Alcorn State University – in Lorman, Mississippi, and as the inaugural executive vice president and provost of the Southern University and A&M College System in Louisiana.
Dr. Brown worked to develop and maintain a campus atmosphere dedicated to “excellence without excuse”. Without question, he increased awareness of the Alcorn institutional brand and enhanced its recognition. In 2012 Alcorn State University received highly coveted HBCU of the Year Award, and in 2013 Dr. Brown was named Male HBCU President of the Year – both from the National Center for HBCU Media Advocacy.
Dr. Brown served as senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). As a member of the Division of Academic Leadership and Change, he was responsible for assisting with the periodic review and improvement for administrative leadership training and development programs sponsored by the association, developing rubrics and monographs incident to presidential leadership and university governance, as well as other institutional support projects. During his fellowship, he completed a book with Dr. Christopher Knaus, “Whiteness Is The New South Africa: Qualitative Research On Post-Apartheid Racism in Schools and Society.”
Dr. Brown is the author of 16 other books and monographs. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and publications related to education and society. Regarded as an international scholar, he has lectured and/or presented research in various countries on six of seven continents – African, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. He is especially well know for his studies of historically black colleges, educational equity, and professional responsibilities. His research and scholarly writing includes publications on education policy, governance/administration, and institutional contexts.
A former member of the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees, Dr. Brown is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, the 100 Black Men of American, Rotary International, a 33rd degree Free and Accepted Mason Prince Hall Affiliation, and an ordained Baptist minister.
Lincoln University (PA)
As Lincoln University’s 14th president, Brenda A. Allen has been aggressively implementing a strategic plan designed to ensure Lincoln’s place among great liberal art institutions. The plan builds upon the University’s strong legacy of using the liberal arts as the vehicle for producing world leaders who are globally engaged and committed to social justice.
Additionally, Dr. Allen has made progress on extensive renovations, upgrades, and additions to the 42-acre, 56-building campus. The facilities improvements include both restoration of the campus’ historic architecture and renewing and increasing campus housing to accommodate anticipated enrollment increases and enhance the living-learning experience.
Before becoming president of Lincoln University, Dr. Allen served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University. Dr. Allen departed WSSU with a legacy of achievement. Her many accomplishments included leading the revision of the curriculum, overseeing the establishment of WSSU’s first two doctoral programs, expanding undergraduate research funding, restructuring academic support to strengthen advising, strengthening standards for tenure and promotion, and helping raise more than $10 million for capital projects, scholarships, and other student support.
Previously, Dr. Allen served as associate provost and director of instructional diversity at Brown University. There she was credited with helping to raise nearly $15 million to support diversity goals, co-authoring a successful $3.3 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant, and leading efforts that culminated in 36% and 45% increases in the number of women and minority faculty member, respectively.
Before joining Brown University, Dr. Allen held several academic and administrative positions at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Promoted through the ranks at Smith to full professor, Dr. Allen served as chair of the African American Studies Department, the assistant to the president, director of institutional diversity, and special assistant to the provost.
Prior to her tenure at Smith College, Dr. Allen spent three years at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Her positions there included postdoctoral associate in the Department of Psychology and lecturer in the Department of Psychology and African American Studies.
Dr. Allen holds a bachelor degree in psychology from Lincoln University, a master’s degree in experimental psychology, and a doctorate in developmental psychology, both from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Jerryl Briggs, Sr., Ph.D.
Mississippi Valley State University
With over 30 years of professional experience in higher education, Dr. Jerryl Briggs was unanimously selected to become the 8th President of Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) on October 9, 2017. Prior to being selected President, Dr. Briggs served in the capacities of Acting President and as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer at the University.
As the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Briggs served as the ranking vice president with direct oversight for the operational well-being of the university, assessing the institution’s needs through formal structures and constant contact and involvement with all constituents of the university.
While at Mississippi Valley, Dr. Briggs has helped to re-established the University College model which led to successfully improving the University retention rate by 10 percent for fall 2014 and 12 percent for fall 2015. In addition, he worked collectively with MVSU staff to increase overall university enrollment that resulted in more than 200 percent increase in dual enrollment students for fall 2016 and an overall 11.4 percent increase over the past three years. Dr. Briggs also managed a $17 million capital improvement project for the University’s athletic complex, with additional planning underway for renovations to residence halls and other campus buildings.
Before joining MVSU, Dr. Briggs served as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Prior to CSU, he has held positions within higher education administration, including serving for ten years at Lincoln University (PA) as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and Dean of Students. He has also held positions at Clark Atlanta University, the College of William and Mary, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, and North Central College.
He has presented workshops addressing the topic “student successes at HBCUs” at various speaking engagements. An avid supporter of HBCUs, Dr. Briggs says, “HBCUs are most dear to my heart. They have been a part of my life, both educationally and professionally. I deeply value our experiences, and we must assure future generations have these same experiences on our campuses.”
Dr. Briggs has received several honors, including the 2015 Citizens of the Year Award from Beta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. the Outstanding Service Award from Clark Atlanta University, and the Student Affairs Administrator of the Year Award from Lincoln University. He was appointed to the Board of Directors for the United Way of Leflore County. Previously, he served as a board member and national advisor for the Community Foundation for Financial Literacy based in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Briggs has also authored a chapter regarding Greek life in Brown, Parks, and Philips African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision (2012).
Dr. Briggs earned his bachelor of science degree in chemistry education from Xavier University of Louisiana, his master of arts degree in human relations and supervision from Louisiana Tech University, and both an educational specialist degree in higher education administration and a doctorate in educational policy, planning and leadership from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He also completed Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management program.
Leroy Staggers, Ph.D.
Dr. Leroy Straggers is the tenth President of Morris College and he has been a part of the Morris College family for twenty-five years. For sixteen years he served as Academic Dean and Professor of English. The Academic Dean is a member of the Cabinet and is responsible for the supervision of all academic programs, all full-time and part-time faculty members and all academic support instructional programs. Dr. Straggers has held other positions in the College to include Chairman to the former Division of Religion and Humanities (now combined with the Division of Social Sciences) and Director of Faculty Development. As Academic Dean, Dr. Straggers worked very closely with the last President Luns C. Richardson on all aspects of Morris College’s on-going reaffirmation of accreditation efforts, including the SACSCOC.
In addition to serving in several administrative positions at Morris College, Dr. Straggers has remained committed to teaching in his role as Professor of English. Frequently, he teaches English courses and enjoys working directly with the students in the classroom and directly contributing to their intellectual growth and development. Dr. Straggers joined the Morris College family in 1993 as an Associate Professor of English.
Before joining the Morris College family in August of 1993, Dr. Straggers served as Vice President for Academic Affairs. Associate Professor of English and Director of Faculty Development at Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina. Additional higher education administrative and teaching appointments included serving as Chairman of the Division of Humanities and Assistant Professor of English at Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina. Also, Dr. Straggers served as instructor of English and Reading at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama.
Dr. Straggers received his undergraduate degree from Voorhees College and earned both doctorate and master degrees from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. Also, he completed the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management (IEM) Program. The Harvard University IEM Program “addresses the critical stewardship role played by senior-level leaders at their institutions and provides a core set of conceptual tools for understanding both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of effective institutional leadership.”
- Briggs Named One of the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021 (Mississippi Valley State University)
- President Loston Named One Of The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021 (St. Philip’s College)
- TSU President Glenda Glover Named One of “Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021” (Tennessee State University)