After weeks of protests, rallies and an organized petition effort, the faculty, staff and students of Morgan State University won a monumental fight to retain their beloved President – at least for now. Following a decision earlier this month, in which the university’s Board of Regents voted 8-7 not to renew Dr. David Wilson’s contract, board members of the prestigious HBCU reversed course following a ground-swelling of community and university support for Wilson.
After a very lengthy and spontaneous board meeting, board members did not renounce their previous decision but decided to extend Wilson’s contract after the end of the current academic year in June – for one additional year. Offering no reason explaining their earlier vote, nor for the reasons behind the latest decision, board members simply said they would renegotiate a new contract for Wilson by the end of January for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Wilson, who was chosen to lead the university less than three years ago, apparently had come under fire because of his tensions with certain board members; yet, his ‘Community Mile’ initiative and upgrades to the school’s research departments has made him a fan favorite among young and old alike.
Adam Jackson, CEO of Baltimore’s leading educational think tank and activist group, Leader’s of a Beautiful Struggle, was first to report the news to this Examiner last night on the Anthony McCarthy show on WEAA. A Towson University grad student who has been a vocal and outspoken leader in the Baltimore region – along with former LBS President Dayvon Love – Jackson says that he had rarely ever seen such a unified level of support and love for any one administrator. “Students and supporters sat around for hours awaiting the latest decision, after the board closed off the meeting to the public,” says the young debate league champion. “And needless to say, the feelings were mixed when the final decision was announced.”
And the reason for that was simple, while many students and faculty saw it as a victory to get their favored President re-instated to the position, others felt the one-year extension only made Wilson a lame-duck President while the board seeks to replace him with who they really want. “Politics played a huge role in this decision,” says independent political analyst Shaun Louis. “While they could have reversed their decision completely, they instead chose to uphold their previous decision to oust Dr. Wilson, but seemed to throw his supporters a bone with the one year extension?”
What that’s called, Louis says, is a ‘red herring’ – a diversionary tactic in politics intended to divert attention from the real issue. “They’ll probably wait to the public attention and support for Dr. Wilson subdues, then they’ll do what they really want to do – fire him and replace him with who the Governor has told them to install?”
Which is troubling to many university and local leaders, including members of the alumni association, who have threatened to cut off major funding contributions to the university if the situation isn’t handled immediately. “This latest action was one of indecisiveness that does not help the university moving forward with such uncertainty at the helm,” says one alumnus and board member, who wished to remain anonymous based on the sensitivity of the situation and future board votes regarding Wilson’s contract.
In other news, local activist and civil rights leader Carl Snowden – who was at the center of recent criminal inquiries in what many believe was a targeted political assassination – has resigned his position in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office – effective January 8th. The man who created the position – Office of Civil Rights – in the office that is chartered to be the law department for Maryland’s three branches of government, has now seemingly been pushed out based on what some believe was his lack of support for many decisions offered up by his boss – Maryland AG Doug Gansler.
“Carl was a man’s man, someone respected in the African American communities for his work on behalf of the common man, but also in many white communities throughout Maryland – for his reserved and tactical way of dealing with issues that helped many effectively deal with issues facing blacks in Maryland,” says one former colleague. Snowden, who made his mark in civil rights and local politics in the one area of Maryland that has the richest history of the enslavement of blacks, Annapolis; has a long and storied career of public service from his days as a city councilman to his grassroots and political organizing work on behalf of some of Maryland’s most prominent elected officials. And he may not be done yet?
Offering up his resignation for the position he currently holds, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, only opens the door for future political aspirations Snowden may have his eye on, according to sources close to the civil rights icon. The subject of a reported political ‘hit list’, created by current Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold (R), Snowden was also targeted by police in a string of arrests ranging from drunken driving and his latest conviction for the possession of marijuana – that caused many local leaders to scratch their heads.
“I can understand his bouts with alcohol and driving, which I believe is a devil he needs to tackle head on, but to get stopped by Baltimore City police, in Druid Hill Park of all places, for no apparent reason or probable cause, makes many wonder if that arrest came based on his threats to sue Anne Arundel County after he found out he became a target of the county executive with information that may have been illegally obtained,” questioned Louis.
Louis says he is in no way condemning law enforcement for doing their jobs, nor is he holding Snowden to a higher standard or believes he should be ‘above the law’; yet, to have an Annapolis resident in Baltimore City’s ‘forgotten park’, that reportedly has more drug dealing and usage, prostitution and gang meetings happening on a daily basis than anywhere in the region, it seems strange police – who are usually never a presence in that park – would all of a sudden pull up Snowden and his companion out of the host of cars that were present that day?
“Conspiracy theory? Maybe…but I learned early on on in politics, to subscribe to the notion articulated by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that ‘In politics, nothing ever happens by accident; for if it happens, you can best believe it was planned that way!’”
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