Polarizing recruitment at Morehouse College gave rise to controversy

A newly appointed administrator at Morehouse College has sparked divisions and controversy among alumni over who might represent the institution. Some alumni and students are concerned that the new administrator, who will oversee marketing and recruitment at the Atlanta institution, is incompetent and questions whether a white woman should have been chosen as the face of an all-male, majority black college rather than black male candidates. Others have argued that he should be given a chance.

Paula Wrestle began earlier this month as Morehouse’s chief brand officer and vice president of strategic communications, marketing and admissions. Her job is to point out “brand and messaging strategies as well as targeted recruitment and digital engagement,” the college said in a press release. His resume is full of marketing experience, mostly in the healthcare industry; He never held a position higher Ed. He had a recent role as senior director of marketing in the United States, Latin America and Canada at Atlanta-based dental imaging and software company Carestream Dental.

David A., president of Morehouse. “Pauler’s experience and expertise, especially in the digital engagement, will help Morehouse expand its international visibility and further enhance its critical voice,” Thomas said in a statement.

The announcement was followed by a storm of reactions on social media এবং and calls and emails to the college প্রশ্ন questioning the alumni decision. Resley responded to some negative comments on LinkedIn, defending himself and promising to stay on the job, but he later deleted his responses. Campus leaders, including Wrestle, declined to comment through a spokesman on the controversy surrounding the rent.

An alumnus called the hiring decision “an insult to Morehouse’s legacy and a blow to the brand” in a LinkedIn thread.

“The heavy emphasis on women is an attack on male leadership and not appropriate for morehouses,” she wrote. “Just wondering how long ago Morehouse stopped recognizing itself. Six months? Let’s face it – long ago it wasn’t about black men. It’s okay if there are more house men who, seeing what I’m seeing, should stop talking and pretending. “

Another Morehouse graduate wrote in the same thread that he “has not yet seen a reasonable explanation of this anywhere.”

Announcing his position, Wrestle said in a press release that he was “honored to be part of the leadership team” and “thrilled to be working with these inspiring staff, teachers, students and alumni.”

And while acknowledging the college’s long history of educating black men, including Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., he added, “With the decades-long leadership position at Morehouse College on social justice, I am inspired by where we will take the college in the coming decades,” he said.

Most of the alumni debate about Wrestle’s role focuses on who can be hired instead. An employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the other two candidates interviewed for the position were black men and one would be an internal hire.

The alumni’s main complaint is “down to his position … a person who in some cases will be the face of out-of-college recruitment and marketing, but he does not represent the population in any way,” the employee said. And “Some have looked at his resume and seen that he has no higher experience.”

The employee questioned Wrestle’s original move to respond to online criticism but agreed that the alumni did not give him a chance to prove himself.

“I think if he does a good job, I’m happy to have him,” the employee said. “It simply came to our notice then. But I want to see them do that. And if they still have a problem, if they can’t bring the students that we believe should be in the morehouse, if they can’t communicate with partners and friends in a satisfactory way, then they have something to stand for. But at the moment, they don’t seem to like him too much. “

Discussions about hiring a white person as the public face of a predominantly black college are taking place at a time when white students, faculty members and administrators are increasingly joining or going to work at HBCU. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the enrollment of non-black students in HBCU in 2020 was 24 percent, compared to 15 percent in 1976. The book A primer on minority-serving organizations (Routledge, 2019) further noted that about a quarter of HBCU faculty members are white.

Some HBCU leaders celebrate that institutions are attracting non-black students and professionals. Jarrett Carter Sr., its founder HBCU DigestAccording to a blog focused on HBCU News, the country’s ethnic census in 2020 after the assassination of George Floyd put these organizations on the radar of non-black applicants who had not previously considered applying. (Carter also instructed operations, strategy and communications at Howard University but noted that he was not speaking on behalf of the institution.)

HBCUs have “begun to expand their talent pool and are considering many different people from different places,” he said. “And a lot of people are interested in working at HBCU. I think that’s a good thing, because it shows you HBCU’s expansion as a mainstream higher education brand. “

He noted that despite the excitement over Wrestle’s appointment, HBCU has long had white professionals in a position of people-oriented leadership. He noted, for example, that both the executive vice president of Fisk University and the associate vice chancellor of relations at the University of North Carolina A&T State University are white.

“I don’t think we can get it either way,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘We are a white man willing to take money’ from a philanthropic point of view, and ‘We are willing to take the money of a white man’ from a student’s point of view. But an administrative location is far from a bridge. “

Carter believes that there is a “cultural advantage” in having someone on HBCU who understands the language of HBCU and the cultural sensitivities of HBCU. But as much as I don’t want anyone to judge a black person in a white space Because of how capable or disabled it is – I won’t do it in our places either. “

A former student who did not want to be identified for defending his relationship in college said he had “nothing” against Wrestle, but he considered his qualifications “suspicious.” He believes that a black professional with more relevant experience would be more suitable for managing the branding of a college where most of the alumni, potential students and donors are black men.

He fears the rent could hamper grants flowing to the college since the 2020 ethnic census. Many HBCUs have experienced a new level of enrichment and benevolence during this period. He says he has received calls not only from other Morehouse alumni but also from business leaders and diversity, equity and inclusion professionals whom he knows about the decision to hire from outside the organization.

“I’m personally questioning my own involvement with the school,” he said. “My time is precious. All of our resources are valuable. Am I putting my resources and time in the right place because I’m questioning the school agenda now that I’ve given up so much of my life and time and money?

He worries that hiring Wrestle could send a discouraging message to current and future students about their own job prospects.

“What do you say about a school of black male leaders when you have the bold decision to go against it in a role that is about the face of the brand and the voice of Morehouse?” He said. “I am concerned about the message that is being sent only to the students, but I am also concerned about the message that is being sent to the potential students of the future. I am concerned about what this brand is and what this school has represented for almost 200 years. I am concerned about how black men can thrive and lead in a world where they are not seen as capable. “

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