Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCU's to Speak at SC State's Fall Commencement

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dr. John Wilson Jr.This year’s Fall Commencement Ceremony at SC State University will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 at 9 a.m. in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center (SHM). There are 364 graduates scheduled to receive degrees. The keynote address will be given by Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU’s).

In his role, Wilson works with the presidentially appointed HBCU Board of Advisors, and assists the U.S. Secretary of Education, serving as liaison between the executive branch and HBCU’s. He also works with 32 federal agencies that support HBCU’s through federal grants and contracts. The board’s challenge is to ensure that HBCU’s are a significant force in helping the nation to reach the goal set by President Barack Obama of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.

Prior to working with the White House Initiative, Wilson served as an associate professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at The George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C. He also served as the executive dean of The George Washington University’s Virginia campus in Ashburn, Va., and Wilson helped to develop a strategic plan for the university.

While at The George Washington University, Wilson’s primary research and teaching interests included transformative advancement and finance in higher education, the role of black colleges and universities, and identifying the most sensible paths aspiring institutions can take towards greater stability and prestige.

Wilson spent the first 16 years of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he ultimately served as director of foundation relations and assistant provost. He was a senior officer of two capital campaigns, with goals of $700 million and $2 billion. As director, he more than doubled the productivity of the office he managed, and reached a record annual revenue stream of over $50 million, well above the level required to reach the campaign sub-goal of $250 million.

Wilson received a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and both a master's and a doctoral degree in administration, planning and social policy, also from Harvard University. While working at MIT, Wilson served as a teaching fellow in Harvard University's Afro-American Studies Department, as well as in Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

For 10 years, Wilson was the president of the Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association. In that role, he led an effort to raise over $.5 million toward scholarships and another $.5 million toward community outreach for his alumni chapter. He was awarded the coveted Benjamin Elijah Mays Leadership Award by Morehouse University in 1998.

Wilson has recently served on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.; as a consultant in the United Negro College Fund Institute for Capacity Building's HBCU Institutional Advancement Program; and on the Kresge Foundation's Black College Advisory Board. From 1996 to 2000, he served as chairman for the Alumni Council of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Wilson also served on the boards of both the Samaritans and the Andover Newton Theological School.

For more information on SC State’s Fall Commencement Ceremony, contact Erica S. Taylor, director of University Relations and Marketing, at (803) 533-3617 or esprioleau@scsu.edu.