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Historically Black colleges and universities across the country are cultural pillars within the realm of education that hold an infinite amount of significance, and a new program will cultivate the next generation of leaders to shape the futures of these institutions. Clark Atlanta University recently unveiled an initiative centered on recruiting future HBCU presidents.

The program—named the HBCU Executive Leadership Institute (ELI)—is an incubator designed to equip budding leaders with the resources, tools and knowledge needed to operate an HBCU. As part of the immersive program, participants will learn about an array of topics including development and fundraising, budgeting, operations, human resources and board governance. They will also be mentored by former HBCU presidents. The executive leadership program aims to teach participants how to preserve the rich legacies of HBCUs while implementing forward-thinking initiatives to contribute to their evolution.

Dr. George T. French Jr., who serves as President of Clark Atlanta University, says the ELI initiative will be instrumental in nurturing and empowering leaders to tap into innovation to sustain the institutions for generations to come. “HBCUs have a clear value proposition and continue to be the standard-bearers of Black excellence across every sector of business and society,” he said in a statement. “Through ELI, we are committed to identifying dynamic leaders who can advance the growth and sustainability of our institutions of higher learning. We invite leaders of industry – from Silicon Valley and Wall Street to non-profits, government, higher education and the creative class – to submit their applications and be a part of history.”

Initiatives like the one being led by Clark Atlanta University are needed as the average tenure for an HBCU president is a mere 3 years, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Many HBCUs have faced exacerbated financial woes stemming from the pandemic making the need for transformative leadership ever more pressing.


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