Days after Bethune-Cookman University Interim President Hubert Grimes and Board of Trustees member Belvin Perry held a joint press conference to offer a vague state of the university and to blast Michelle Carter-Scott as board chair, Carter-Scott is out as the head trustee.
From “B-CU trustees remove Michelle Carter-Scott from leadership post,” by the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s T.S. Jarmusz:
The move comes as tensions between the board and administration at Bethune-Cookman University have come to a head and the historically black university struggles to keep open. Perry, a retired circuit judge who’s been outspoken in his criticism of Carter-Scott’s leadership, said at an afternoon press conference she would remain on the board.
“There’s no secret that there was bickering and infighting, which justified the need for new leadership,” Perry said. “We’re taking the necessary steps to right the ship in terms of our financials. Our future is very bright.”
The future is anything but at BCU. Everyone who had any hand in causing the institution’s financial crisis, and everyone charged with resolving it, is motivated by extraordinary self-interest.
Former B-CU Trustee Johnny McCray’s accusations against Perry were published in the Florida Courier last week in a guest commentary entitled, “B-CU presidential search halted in judges’ self-interest.”
Perry was neither on the BOT nor otherwise associated with B-CU when Jackson engaged Grimes to advance the dorm deal; he has no first-hand knowledge. Perry does, however, have ample motive to go to great lengths to ensure Grimes continues as interim president, especially with his own ambitions for presidency having been short-circuited.
My concerns about Perry and Grimes should in no way be construed as a pass for Carter-Scott. She should also give way to new leadership and step down as chair of the BOT. Once a proud supporter of Jackson and the dorm deal, she has been caught in a power struggle with an ineffective interim president whom she once championed.
As harrowing as the fighting is, the facts about the narcissism surrounding B-CU’s real issues are far more dangerous.
No one is taking the blame for knowledge of the dorm deal. No one is publicly discussing options to save the school from massive financial cuts, or millions owed in vendor commitments and potential lawsuits. No one is talking about ways to stabilize enrollment, which is nearly certain to plummet this fall as the financial drama continues to unfold in the media.
People are talking about people because they don’t have solutions and have no clue about how to find them. If B-CU had any semblance of leadership, any real collective notion about saving the school ‒ no one would talk publicly. Period.
B-CU’s brain trust is reducing every chance of hiring an experienced administrator who can come in as an unobstructed, short-term president to fix the financial and accreditation issues. No good current or former president with the experience to save Bethune-Cookman would dare to work for this board as it is currently constructed.
The jaw-jacking of a select few trustees is convincing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges that the board is too involved in the daily operations of the school, and has no plan beyond cutting the budget to resolve its money issues. They are convincing city officials and private donors that any dollar or bond given to B-CU could be wilted by board politics, if not first claimed by lawsuits and outstanding vendor payments.
A lot of people want titles and credit for whatever turnaround B-CU is to experience, but there will be no turnaround for as long as people are doing more talking than working.
No one will enroll in an institution where instability among leadership is clear even to a high school student. No one will invest in an institution where the only plan for salvation that has been publicly shared is, “Don’t let Michelle Carter-Scott run the board,” or “Hubert Grimes saw this whole thing happening, so don’t let him be in charge.”
Everyone inside and outside of Daytona Beach is sick of the nonsense. So when will the legitimately concerned citizens of the B-CU community stand up and make everyone else have a seat?
Jarrett L. Carter, Sr. is publisher of HBCU Digest (www.hbcudigest.com).