Dr. Ivy R. Taylor, 12th President of Rust College

HOLLY SPRINGS, MS – The Rust College Board of Trustees announced the selection of former San Antonio Mayor, Ivy Taylor, as the 12th President of Rust College. She will be the first woman to lead Rust College as President.

Dr. Ivy Taylor is the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas. She received her academic degrees from Yale, North Carolina, and Penn. Her dissertation focused on leadership at Historically Black Colleges. Most importantly, she is a brilliant and thoughtful collaborator, innovator, and leader.

The Trustees made their selection following an extensive eight-month searching ending with a series of interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives from the Holly Springs community. “Dr. Taylor brings energy, intelligence, and competence as well as experience in listening to diverse views and building coalitions,” said Rev. Dr. David Swinton, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Taylor succeeds President David Beckley who has successfully led the school for 27 years. After a period of transition, Dr. Beckley will retire with the status of President Emeritus.

Dr. Taylor spent six years as a lecturer in Public Administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She also worked at a nonprofit affordable housing agency and served multiple terms as a city councilmember prior to her term as Mayor. “We believe the abilities she gained in non-profit management and political leadership will be readily transferable to an academic setting,” said Swinton.

While serving as Mayor, Dr. Taylor joined the Board of Trustees for Huston-Tillotson University, in Austin, Texas. This sparked for her an additional interest in higher education, especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). She is alos on the board of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. She told the Rust College Board of Trustees that she is committed to changing lives, improving communities, and reducing economic inequality through working in higher education.

“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity to serve the Rust College community. Through my conversations with the Board, students, faculty, staff and alumni, it was apparent that many appreciate the impact of Rust College on their lives and want to be part of writing the next chapter for this historic institution,” said Taylor. She added, “My family and I are looking forward to becoming active members in this community.”

Dr. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She recently completed the Doctor of Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation focused on leadership for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

She credits her academic success to the strong foundation, faith, and values instilled by her mother, a North Carolina native, who never had the chance to pursue her educational dreams. She currently works as a consultant for J.L. Powers and Associates. She relishes time with her family — her husband of 20 years, Rodney, and their daughter, Morgan, a high school student.

Read Dr. Taylor’s bio here.

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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.

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.

HOLY SPRINGS, MS – Rust College’s 152nd Commencement will take place on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Prairie View A&M University’s President Dr. Ruth Simmons will deliver the keynote address.

According to a press release from the university, Dr. Ruth Simmons, an accomplished university president with administrative experience in Ivy schools, a women’s university and a historically black college, serves as President of Prairie View A&M University. Simmons was President of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before she became president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college. Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University.

Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of Texas Instruments, Chrysler, Mondelez and Square, as well as a number of non-profit boards. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor.

Bennett College, Kentucky State University, Florida Memorial University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Oakwood University, St. Augustine’s University, Bluefield State College, Rust College, and Lane College are among the top universities in the south according to recently released 2017 U.S. News and World Report College Rankings.

Bennett College ranked #9, Kentucky State University ranked #16 (tied with Newberry College and Tennessee Wesleyan College), Florida Memorial University ranked #23 (tied with Keiser University, Lees-McRae College, Shorter University and Williams Baptist College), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff ranked #42 (tied with College of Coastal Georgia and Warner University), Oakwood University ranked #47 (tied with North Carolina Wesleyan College), St. Augustine’s University ranked #49, Bluefield State College and Rust College ranked #52 (tied with Chipola College, and Georgia Gwinnett College), and Lane College ranked #56 (tied with Our Lady of Holy Cross College and University of Arkansas at Fort Smith).

This category is classified by regional colleges which is defined by its emphasis on undergraduate education while awarding less than half of its degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

“Congratulations to the following HBCU’s that are recognized by the U.S. News and World Report. It is a very distinct pleasure to know that those institutions are providing a quality education to future leaders that after leaving the campuses will take on the world by force using what knowledge that the HBCU’s provided with to the best of their abilities and providing services in making the world a better place.” said Demetrius Johnson, Jr., President and Founder of HCF.

You can check out the full list of the Regional Colleges South Rankings as well as other rankings that HBCU institutions may have made by U.S. News and Report here.