By Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Morehouse College’s Board of Trustees announced Friday it has removed its president, embattled board chairman and board leadership, effective immediately, after months of public friction, in an attempt “to put aside our differences and put Morehouse and our mission first.”
The board initially voted in January not to extend John S. Wilson’s contract when it expires in June, a decision board leaders never fully explained, citing confidentiality concerns. The trustees decided Friday to make the change sooner, moving Morehouse’s chief operating officer, William Taggart, into the president’s office on an interim basis. The new board chairman is Willie Woods, co-founder of ICV Partners, a New York-based finance company.
The new leadership team declined to say if Wilson was given a severance package. Neither Wilson nor Robert Davidson, the former board chairman, were available for comment.
Many students, faculty and alumni — including prominent graduates such as former Obama administration cabinet officer Jeh Johnson, actor Samuel L. Jackson and filmmaker Spike Lee — have criticized the board’s recent actions and what they say has been its lack of transparency. More than 30
The board said in a statement it “has heard the voices of students, faculty, alumni and many other key members of the Morehouse family, who have called upon all of those who love this historic institution to put aside our differences and put Morehouse and our mission first.”
Taggart, Woods and student trustee Johnathan Hill echoed the themes in the statement in a group interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday evening, saying the changes needed to be made now.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the 2,100 students at the school,” said Woods. “We couldn’t sit back and do nothing.”
Replacing Wilson as interim president is William Taggart, who has served as chief operating officer at Morehouse since 2015. Robert Davidson was also replaced by Willie Woods as chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“I want to emphasize that the decisions made today were out of love for the college and with a focus on turning the page toward better positioning the institution for future success,” Woods said in a statement after the board’s action.