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HBCU education

Morehouse alum Harold Martin Jr. takes over as interim president

Former management consultant has experience helping schools alleviate financial problems

Morehouse College in Atlanta introduced a new interim president on Thursday in a news conference that emphasized solidarity and a commitment to fundraising.

“We’ve been raising a lot of money,” interim president Harold Martin Jr. told reporters, referring to the board of trustees. “Our advancement organization is fired up and ready to go. If there’s a donor or foundation in Atlanta or across the country who’s excited about our mission or who we can get excited about our mission, they are going to hear from us.”

Joining Martin at the news conference were several Morehouse community leaders, including faculty trustee member David Wall Rice, board chairman Willie Woods, Morehouse National Alumni Association president Howard Willis and Student Government Association president Kamren Rollins.

The presence of Rollins, who referred to Martin as a man who “loves Morehouse” and is “passionate about his work,” was a major step in easing the tension that has existed between students and the administration since January.

It is hoped that the appointment of Martin signals an end to the leadership problems that have kept Morehouse in the news for all the wrong reasons. It began with some alumni expressing displeasure with then-president John S. Wilson in October 2016 over the school’s ranking and credit rating, among other things, and culminated with the death of interim president William “Bill” Taggart just three weeks ago.

Martin’s educational and professional background could help him bring the only all-male historically black college out of one its most trying times.

A 2002 graduate who also has a law degree from Yale and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard, Martin has spent more than a decade studying trends in higher education and helping institutions alleviate their financial problems. Before starting his private consulting practice, Martin was an associate partner at management consultant McKinsey & Company and helped develop a strategic blueprint for Morehouse in 2011.

Having graduated from Morehouse only 15 years ago, Martin may be able to effectively engage the school’s 18,000 alumni. His appointment also allows the board of trustees to once again shift its focus to finding a permanent replacement.

“The beauty about electing somebody who is capable is that we can take our time,” Woods said.

Seeing the student, faculty and alumni leaders, all of whom had once voiced their displeasure with the administration, come together signals that change may be around the corner. For the first time in weeks, the Morehouse community can let out a sigh of relief.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He is majoring in cinema, television and emerging media studies and is the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger.