Here & Now Here & Now

Support the news

Morehouse College President Talks Controversies, Challenges09:08
Download

Play
This article is more than 7 years old.
Dr. John S. Wilson, Jr. is president of Morehouse College in Atlanta. (Morehouse College)
Dr. John S. Wilson, Jr. is president of Morehouse College in Atlanta. (Morehouse College)

President Barack Obama will be delivering the commencement address this weekend at Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black college.

President Obama’s visit was overshadowed by controversy when another commencement speaker, Rev. Kevin Johnson — a Morehouse alumnus -- was reassigned to a lesser role after writing an op-ed criticizing Mr. Obama. But Johnson and the school have worked out their differences and he’ll be delivering the address he was originally scheduled to give.

"The script has completely flipped and the competition for bright African American students in general is a lot stiffer across the board."

Dr. John S. Wilson

Morehouse College president Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. spoke with Here & Now's Robin Young about the controversy, as well as other challenges facing the school, including its 50-percent four-year graduation rate.

"A lot of students have trouble with finances. Many of our students are taking longer because they cannot come up with all the money they need in four straight years, even with help from federal grants and family help and churches and other sources. It is very difficult," Wilson said.

It's also partly due to stiff competition from other schools for high-achieving students. Nine out of 10 African Americans in higher education are currently being educated outside of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Wilson said.

"I was in college in the late 70s and some seven out of 10 of the African Americans in higher ed were being educated inside HBCUs," Wilson said. "The script has completely flipped and the competition for bright African American students in general is a lot stiffer across the board."

Separately, the college is reeling over the arrests of four of its students on charges of sexual assault in two separate incidents with women at its sister school Spelman College.

"Sometimes at Morehouse, as with any college or university, things happen that are a contradiction to what we are about," Wilson said. "It was a tough thing to go through, but what we did in that case, followed all procedures and certainly reasserted our values as being against all kinds of violence."

Guest:

This segment aired on May 16, 2013.

Support the news

Support the news