Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

NAFEO Board Cites Need to Move in 'Another Direction': Humphries out; Washington-Based Attorney to Serve as Interim President

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

NAFEO Board Cites Need to Move in 'Another Direction': Humphries out; Washington-Based Attorney to Serve as Interim President

Article excerpt


Citing the need to "move into another direction with its leadership," the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), at an April 26 board meeting, requested that its top officer, Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, step down from the position of president and chief executive of the 35-year-old association of historically Black colleges and universities.

"NAFEO clearly has a very noble mission--to represent, influence and win friends on behalf of the nation's Black colleges, and it is important that we stay close to our mission," Dr. William R. Harvey, NAFEO board chairman and Hampton University president said.

Founded in 1969, the organization works to represent the issues of HBCUs with Congress, federal agencies and private corporations.

"Our dialogue was driven by fact-based decision-making, a desire to provide responsible leadership tempered by equity and sensitivity," Harvey wrote in an April 30 letter informing NAFEO's 118 members of the board's decisions. "We appreciate the contributions made by Dr. Frederick Humphries and wish him well in the future."

According to a biography of Humphries on NAFEO's Web site, the organization has been "re-energized" by his presence. Before taking on the role as NAFEO president, Humphries, a chemist by training, had a distinguished 27-year career as president of Florida A&M and Tennessee State universities.

A committee is being formed to conduct a search to select a new president, Harvey said. As transitional leadership, the board appointed Washington-based Attorney Lezli Baskerville as interim president, effective April 27.

"Baskerville is well known in Washington circles and is well-versed on higher education issues," Harvey said.

Over the past 25 years, Baskerville's career has included work on higher education access issues. She also served as vice president of government relations for The College Board.

"I am honored to be selected," Baskerville said. "The board and membership have established some priorities, and I will try to advance the entire agenda of NAFEO.

"I hope that my familiarity with the association, my years of training and experience; my professional relationships; my instincts for people and politics; my passion for prodding educational access, equity and excellence mad preserving and enhancing HBCUs, will serve the association well," Baskerville said.

While the decision to replace Humphries was made by NAFEO board members in a "closed door" meeting, some members support the decision.

"I trust the board has good judgment," said Dr. James C. Renick, chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University. "I've always maintained that the most significant role (for NAFEO) is to be a strong advocate with the federal government to support the mission and goals of HBCUs."

"I think (Baskerville) is a great choice for interim president," Dr. Ronald Mason Jr., president Jackson State University said noting that Baskerville is the first attorney to be appointed to a presidential role at the organization. With only four past presidents, NAFEO has had a short history of leadership changes, but presidential appointments, permanent and interim, previously have been held by former college presidents or vice presidents.

According to Harvey the leadership change comes as the organization begins to "reinvigorate our membership," increase membership participation on committees and bring greater value to its members. …

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