Political pundit, economist, and columnist Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D. has resigned from her position as President of Bennett College. Amid troubling allegations and speculation, the 15th President announced to the Bennett College community on February 28 that she would be leaving her role to “pursue other challenges.” Her resignation will be effective on May 6 and Esther Terry, Ph.D. the current Chief Academic Officer and a Bennett College alumna, will assume the interim position on May 7.
For most, this is a bittersweet end to a tumultuous but productive and effective run as President.
Outside of Bennett, Dr. Malveaux is recognized nationally as an author and popular public speaker, but when she walked the historic campus, she was simply Dr. J.
And Dr. J is one powerful woman. Since assuming the position of President in 2007, Dr. Malveaux was determined to leave Bennett better than when she found her. Her signature phrase “on fire for Bennett” can’t begin to describe her lasting impact. In five years, she turned Bennett College from an unknown women’s institution in Greensboro, North Carolina to a headline on CNN’s Black in America.
In an effort to encourage students to excel, Dr. Malveaux instituted the “Lift Every Voices” series, which brings prominent speakers to the campus; since 2007, students have welcomed Anita Hill, Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan, the Reverend Marcia Dyson, and even Bill Cosby, who was summoned to speak at Dr. Malveaux’s request.
Her leadership also extended into our academics and retention rate. Dr. Malveaux increased enrollment to more than 735 students in 2009 and enhanced the learning curriculum with a focus on women’s leadership, entrepreneurship, excellence in communications, and global awareness.
In order to increase revenue to the college, Dr. Malveaux seemed to realize that we must enhance our campus. After two decades of inactivity, Dr. Malveaux completed a $21 million program which allowed the campus to erect new buildings while also renovating other facilities. She also created a 2020 Master Plan, which included construction of a high-tech library and newer dormitories.
But all triumphs are accompanied with challenges.
Students protested on the lawn of her campus home and released the “Concerned Belles” letter, detailing their troubles with her as President and her nonchalance about our biggest issues. In 2011, Bennett was placed on accreditation probate with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for fiscal instability; this was a direct blow to all that Dr. Malveaux was attempting to correct. However, under her leadership, Bennett’s accreditation was reaffirmed through 2014 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Dr. Malveaux’s favorite quote is “History belongs to she who holds the pen.” She has certainly left her mark on Bennett and because of her foundation, the college will continue to flourish and become the institution it is meant to be.
In recognition of all that Dr. Malveaux has accomplished, she will be named President Emerita of Bennett College at the May 6 commencement. Between now and then, Dr. Malveaux will use the remaining months focusing on fundraising for the institution. Dr. Terry will handle the responsibility of the day-to-day operations of the college with Dr. James Dixon, Chief Administrative Officer.