Dr. Julianne Malveaux is now stepping down as president of Bennett College. The historically Black all-women’s college is losing one of the nation’s most-respected economists, writers, and leaders, but the move appears to be the right one for Dr. Malveaux.
“Five years is the longest time I’ve ever held a job in my life,” Malveaux said in a statement. “And while I remain committed to HBCUs and the compelling cause of access in higher education, I will actualize that commitment, now, in other arenas. I will miss Bennett College and will remain one of its most passionate advocates.”
Dr. Malveaux has been Bennett’s president since 2007, leading the university during one of its most-difficult periods. The school was placed on probation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools because of perceived “financial instability.” Dr. Malveaux argued that this decision only served to increase the financial challenges being faced by the university. The school was later taken off probation in late 2010.
Along with Michael Eric Dyson, Julianne Malveaux was the public intellectual that inspired me to pursue the career that I have today. And when you add in Prof. Cornel West, these individuals have come to form the Holy Trinity of Black intellectual leadership during the past 20 years. West, Dyson, and Malveaux are three of the more visible members of a virtual army of African-American scholars who are hungry for change but find themselves constrained by a system that rewards scholars who avoid Black people.
What makes Dr. Malveaux so unique is that she has been able to carve out a space for Black women in a world where we still keep women outside the fence. Her professional expertise also compares favorably to any economic adviser in the Obama Administration. This is why I don’t understand how during an era of tragic Black unemployment, Dr. Malveaux has not (to my knowledge) been invited to discuss economic policy at the White House. She, before anyone else, should be working right alongside President Obama to lend expertise on how to get Black people back to work.
What is sad and unfortunate is that this valuable resource has been laid to waste because we live in a world where being Black and/or female continues to be a serious political crime. If Lawrence Summers, former Chief Economic Adviser for President Obama, looked like Julianne, he never would have been given a chance to serve his country.
I am not sure of the politics behind Dr. Malveaux’s decision to leave Bennett, and I am sure the stories are quite juicy. But putting all of this to the side, what remains clear is that Dr. Julianne Malveaux is one of the great intellectual giants of our day, and Black women will gain inspiration from her achievements for decades.