Dr. Edison Jackson will retire as Bethune-Cookman’s president. Hubert L. Grimes was named interim president, sources told the Daytona Times Wednesday night.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Hubert L. Grimes, Bethune-Cookman University’s legal counsel and a former Volusia County judge, has been named interim president of the Daytona Beach-based HBCU, on-campus sources told the Daytona Times Wednesday night.
Grimes is slated to immediately replace Dr. Edison Jackson, who announced on Tuesday that he will retire and not serve out his employment at the university, which was scheduled to end in 2018.
The retired judge follows Jackson, who became B-CU’s interim president on May 14, 2012. Jackson replaced Dr. Trudie Reed, who retired after seven years with the institution.
Grassroots efforts have been ongoing for a least a year to persuade B-CU’s trustees to fire Jackson because of his refusal to address questions and concerns plaguing a dormitory-building project that was originally set to cost $72 million, was built for $85 million and is now estimated to cost the university more than $300 million over 40 years – the time it will take for B-CU to own the buildings.
B-CU also lost nearly $18 million over the past fiscal year, according to tax returns. During the year covered by the most recent tax report, salaries also increased by nearly $8 million to $49.2 million.
Along with financial concerns, Jackson had come under fire from alumni, students and the community for allowing U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as the commencement speaker.
The invitation to DeVos, a strong proponent of school choice, to speak at the May 10 graduation at Daytona Beach’s Ocean Center sparked national attention. Alumni, students, pastors, the Florida NAACP or state and national education leaders could persuade Jackson to rescind the invitation.
Dr. Evelyn Bethune, an alum and the granddaughter of B-CU founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, expressed concern about the school’s debt.
“As alumni, we are glad to see him go, but we are concerned since it’s a retirement and not a resignation, which means he could be getting some type of benefits package,” she told the Daytona Times. “The way he left the school in debt that is troubling. My family think it’s time for him to go.’
“We started out as staunch supporters of Dr. Jackson. We thought he was with us and best for the institution, but that changed. The amount of debt and what it is going to take to get us back to the institutions standards is disturbing,’’ Bethune added.
Grimes already is working on B-CU’s behalf, defending the university against multiple lawsuits.
A graduate of Kentucky State University, the University of Georgia Law School, and International Seminary, Grimes was Volusia County’s first African-American county judge (1988) and circuit judge (1999) in the four-county Seventh Judicial Circuit.
He teaches law at Florida A& M University’s law school.
Grimes, who is from Bartow, also has a reputation of being an advocate for the youth which shows in a book that he authored titled, “How to Keep Your Child from Going to Jail: Restoring Parental Authority and Developing Successful Youth.’’
In addition, Grimes is an ordained minister and has served as associate pastor at Calvary Christian Center in Ormond Beach.