University President Accused Of Defaming Missouri HBCU By Calling It A 'Regional Institution'

·4 min read

Lincoln University (LU), a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Jefferson City, Missouri, is at the center of an intriguing conversation: whether an HBCU should embrace other “university identities.”

This subject came up during an interview between the Jefferson City News Tribune and John Moseley, president of LU.

During the sit-down, Moseley — who is white — spoke on how the institution is situated at the intersection of being both a Black and a regional institution.

In other words, while LU was founded as a Black university, it serves a local population that is majority white, resulting in a student body that is currently about 40% white and 43% Black.

“For a long time, predating my appointment as president, there’s just been this belief that, if you recruit locally, you’re turning away from your mission as an HBCU. Or, if you recruit nationally, you’re turning away from your responsibility as a state institution that is a regional institution,” Moseley said, noting that there’s no reason LU can’t embrace both identities.

“If we have a nursing major from Russellville, Missouri, likely it’s going to be a white student,” Moseley added. “If that nurse ends up in St. Louis and she’s working in a hospital in St. Louis and an African American comes in because they’re in need at that point, I’d like to think Lincoln University has helped that student develop a cultural competency that allows them to treat that patient with the respect and dignity that everyone of us have come to expect.”

Moseley also pointed out that “commuter students from all races [choose to] attend the institution because of our value, our affordability, the quality of education that they receive and the fact that it is close to their home, so it comes at even greater cost savings for the student.”

These comments didn’t sit well with Sherman Bonds, president of the Lincoln University National Alumni Association and he had a thing or two to say about the situation.

In response to Moseley calling LU a “regional” institution with dual identities, Bonds unveiled an essay titled “A Framework for a Collective Dialogue” earlier this month.

“The tone of the narrative was perplexing,” he wrote. “It presented the African American ‘space’ as a renegotiable platform that could be reduced to the status of a regional college, which diminishes the institution’s national and international prominence.”

Bonds went on to say that it was “an insult” for Moseley to refer the Missouri HBCU as a regional institution.

He continued, saying that LU’s regional status “doesn’t affect the identity of the institution.”

“You recruit from wherever you want to recruit from and whoever you get to come,” Bonds added. “The institution is a historically Black college and university founded by the 62nd and 65th Colored Infantries. That doesn’t change. It’s a Black university—and you’re welcome to come.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, non-Black students made up 24% of the HBCU student population in 2020, which is up from 15% in 1976.

However, some HBCUs, like LU, find themselves with much higher non-Black student populations, bringing about conversations and disagreements such as those portrayed by Moseley and Bonds.

What’s your opinion on the subject?