Tuskegee Grads Seek Ouster of Prez

April 26, 2015 Off By Michael
Booker T. Washington with his back turned away from Krege Center where Brian Johnson is dumbing down Washington's legacy.

Booker T. Washington with his back turned away from the administrative offices where Brian Johnson is dumbing down Washington’s legacy. Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

TUSKEGEE (Cascade Press)

Tuskegee grads have launched a petition on Change.org to oust first year President, Brian Johnson. The drive comes nine months into Johnson’s first year on the job. It is believed to be unprecedented for graduates to seek the ouster of a college president via an online petition.

Johnson, who fashions himself as a tech savvy administrator will have to fend off an internet driven petition from graduates of a leading university in technological advancement in aerospace engineering. According to the petition, Johnson “lacks the professional and personal qualities that are necessary to lead a university as prestigious as Tuskegee University.”

Johnson has been in hot water with alumni  since  his first week on the job.  He refused to meet with former Tuskegee head basketball coach, Leon Douglas to resolve a dispute between Douglas and the Director of Athletics. Douglas resigned from his position after leading the basketball team to its first ever appearance in the Division II Elite Eight Tournament in 2014.

A week later he declined to meet with Tuskegee City Councilman Chris Lee. In addition to representing the university community on the city council, Lee’s parents and grandparents are graduates of Tuskegee.

Later, Johnson banned Rev. Harold Lusk, Pastor of the Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church, from coming on campus. The university has a long history with Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church. It was the home church of Booker T. Washington.

After a public uproar, the ban was lifted, but not before, the Tuskegee University Police Department violated Lusk’s privacy rights by running his name through the national crime database. This action subjects the university to liability risks should Lusk seek civil remedies available to him.

Before, this controversy could die down, Johnson, rudely refused to meet with Cynthia Smith, the grieving mother of Bobby Smith, a student killed during a student event, who wanted to discuss details of a scholarship program Johnson’s predecessor had promised would be established.

The petition accuses Johnson of using “social media inappropriately…” Johnson often quotes hip-hop artists and speaks in the vernacular of the street on social media. He has posted pictures of himself in less than presidential attire “kicking it” with female students.

Proponents of Johnson’s ouster say that Johnson, “devalues the reputation of Tuskegee University and by extension the value, prestige and marketability of our hard earned degrees.”

In the past week, three high level administrative officials either resigned, effective May 1 or were fired, effective immediately, including the Dean of the School of Engineering, the Coordinator of Alumni Affairs and the Dean of Students, each of whom had been employed at the university for several decades.

The petition warned that “should Dr. Brian Johnson remain as President of Tuskegee University, alumni donations and student retention will be directly impacted and will drastically decline.”

Furthermore, the petition fears that “should he (Johnson) remain, Tuskegee University will surely follow in the likes of Morris Brown college or Knoxville College.”

Morris Brown College ran out of money several years ago when it lost federal student aid funding. Although the doors are still open Morris Brown has less than 100 students. It was recently reported that Knoxville College has only eleven students.

The petition closes by stating it gives a “Vote of No Confidence” to Trustee Board Chairman, Charles Williams, largely because Williams orchestrated to firing of the last president and the hiring of Johnson.

Efforts to reach Johnson prior to publication deadlines were unsuccessful.

Harold Michael Harvey, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” and “Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com