Let’s remember what really matters at JCSU

As drama unfolds surrounding Johnson C. Smith University and its leadership, we must not forget the most important people in all of this -- the JCSU students.
Patrick Graham
Patrick Graham

The recent drama created around the vitality of Johnson C. Smith University is filled with financial and human resource accusations, but it is missing key protagonists — the JCSU students.

My Urban League colleague and fellow alum, Talmadge Fair, has expressed concerns over JCSU and the long-term sustainability of the institution under its current leadership. Former JCSU trustee Jim Woodward has voiced confidence in the direction of JCSU President Ron Carter. Even former JCSU President Dorothy Yancy felt it necessary to defend her own legacy of stewardship, though she is not a central character in the drama.

However, I have heard little mention, contemplation, nor highlights of how this current drama is affecting the very reason for JCSU’s existence — its students.

I agree that an open dialogue of transparency, fact and data sharing, and clearheaded perspectives from all sides may be beneficial to all concerned. I am also not naive, and I understand that the harsh, personal statements made by some on either side make such a dialogue a difficult, but still necessary, proposition. As an academic and leader of social sector agencies for more than 20 years, this is not my first sight of unsettling discontent. That said, as the saying goes, “we can still walk and chew gum at the same time.”  While all concerned (including myself) debate the effectiveness and presence of current leadership, we can still financially support students, who desperately need it.

JCSU students are valuable to our community, and they need the support of alumni to complete their degrees so that they can begin to improve the economic and social mobility of our community. We can assist them through the JCSU Scholarship Fund.

The JCSU Scholarship Fund is a restricted fund for student scholarships based on need. Whether you support the current JCSU administration or believe they should be removed through a petition, we must not forsake ensuring that the students remain supported for their education. We can debate and resolve the future of JCSU leadership while still giving in a way that goes directly to students.

The legacies of us all pale in comparison to the potential of JCSU students and our future as a community and nation. During these times, we need to think through a lens of “inclusive and servant leadership.”  Let us include and serve students through the restricted JCSU Scholarship Fund.

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Patrick Graham is president and CEO at Urban League of Central Carolinas.


GIVE TO THE JCSU SCHOLARSHIP FUND:

WWW.JCSU.EDU/GIVE  (Click on Other Fund and Type in Amount and “JCSU Scholarship Fund”)

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