National News

After HBCU administrator’s suicide, alumni have ‘no confidence’ in leadership

todayMarch 27, 2024


Lincoln University

(OXFORD, Pa.) — Lincoln University’s alumni association has issued a statement of “no confidence” in the HBCU’s Board of Curators after it reinstated President John Moseley, who was on paid, administrative leave while under investigation following the suicide of a school administrator.

University alum and vice president of student affairs Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey died by suicide on Jan. 8. Candia-Bailey had accused Moseley of bullying, harassment and discrimination in a letter obtained by ABC News following her death. She was terminated shortly before her death.

“This decision implodes the very fabric of healing an institution’s dire need for recovery and wellness,” the statement from the Lincoln University Alumni Association (LUAA) reads. “This decision will continue to fester an open wound of hopelessness and despondency. No individual is above the health and well-being of the University.”

An investigation — led by attorney Ron Norwood at Lewis Rice LLC, who is a member of the governing board and was the past board president of an HBCU — found “no claims of bullying by the University President can be substantiated” and reinstated Moseley to the position.

“No witnesses reported that they had ever witnessed President Moseley engage in bullying – and all denied having ever personally felt bullied by President Moseley,” the investigation summary from the Board of Curators read.

According to the Associated Press, the Board admitted that Moseley’s communication style is “direct” and that stress under his leadership has increased office tensions but they’re working to address these issues.

The Board of Curators also called the administrator’s death “tragic,” but did not comment further on the circumstances of her death.

“As a board, we are committed to make certain the mental health of Lincoln University employees is a priority and that every employee is always treated with dignity and respect,” said Board of Curators President Victor Pasley.

Some students and alumni have protested the decision to reinstate the president and are calling for a separate investigation.

The LUAA is also calling for the Board of Curators to vacate their seats, claiming they have “brought forward irrevocable harm, shame, hopelessness and mortification” to the campus.

The Board has not yet returned ABC News’ request for comment on the statement of no confidence.

ABC News has reached out to Moseley for comment as well. He told the AP that “he’s grateful for the board’s vote of confidence in him and that he’s looking forward to returning to work at the mid-Missouri school.”

“We were given a president with minimal athletic leadership abilities, and placed in a role requiring even stronger critical thinking skills,” read the letter from the alumni association. “For the Board of Curators to reassert this flawed decision and to act without change in this administration is further evidence of their inadequacies to care for and protect the interest of the University’s mission, and its sovereignty as a [HBCU].”

Moseley has a doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis, according to a university website profile. He was previously the director of athletics at the university and the head men’s basketball coach before taking over the position as president, according to Moseley’s LinkedIn profile. Previously, he was associate head coach at North Carolina Central University, another HBCU, according to the profile.

Candia-Bailey, 49, had previously worked as vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, according to Lincoln University’s announcement of Candia-Bailey’s hiring. She also served in administrative positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Towson University, North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina State University.

Candia-Bailey began working at Lincoln University, a historically Black university in Jefferson City, Missouri, in May 2023. She received a termination letter on Jan. 3. The letter stated that she was terminated for cause, including allegations of insubordination in allowing an ineligible student to work, allowing ineligible students to obtain a discounted housing rate and failing to adhere to confidentiality requirements in a grievance matter filed by two of her subordinates.

In a letter to Moseley, Candia-Bailey detailed an apparent meeting between the two: “I couldn’t even finish the meeting because you didn’t hear me. I left in tears. You intentionally harassed and bullied me and got satisfaction from sitting back to determine how you would ensure I failed as an employee and proud alumna.”

Candia-Bailey also alleged in the letter that she was never made aware of concerns about her performance until a November 2023 performance review and was never given an action plan to address the concerns afterward.

In the board statement on the investigation, Pasley added, “this tragedy has forced us to grapple more fully with issues facing Lincoln and our individual students and employees – ranging from mental health support to employee work and relationships.”

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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