Wiley College President Felton Jr. will be sticking around for a little longer. Learn why trustees at the college want to keep the president close in the article by Bridget Ortigo at Marshall News Messenger below.

The Wiley College board of trustees recently voted unanimously to renew the contract of university President Herman Felton Jr. for another five years, according to university officials on Monday.

Wiley College board of trustees recently renewed university President Herman Felton Jr.’s contract for another five years. (Credit:News Messenger)

Felton was hired by the board in 2018 to replace the Marshall HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) former president and Chief Executive Officer Haywood Strickland who had served in the role since 2000.

Board Vice-Chairman Walter L. Sutton Jr. said in a statement Felton was the right leader for the university, especially during the most recent challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students can relate to him, he’s straightforward with the board, and he knows his way around Washington, having recently secured $2.5 million in EDA (Economic Development Administration) funds for the college,” Sutton said.

Felton said he plans to keep the university on the course he’s led for the past three years.

“This affirmation illustrates the shared vision between the board and myself to continue this important work as thought partners,” Felton said in a statement. “My excitement approaching this next chapter is rooted in my fond appreciation of board governance that supports me continuously and offers help we asked.”

The five year contract’s salary was not disclosed by the university.

After an initial employee furlough on campus following his hiring, Felton then moved the university to seek additional funding and installed programs to help students with everything from tuition costs to living needs.

“For the last three years, President Felton and his team at Wiley College moved with an intentional focus on strengthening its impact on the local economy as one of the largest employers in the city, increasing the physical growth of the campus with the establishment of the Wiley College Welcome Center and remodeling of two historic buildings on campus – Cole Library and Pemberton Complex,” the university said in a statement. “His efforts have also positioned Wiley College to develop a Workforce and Economic Development Center in collaboration with local officials to increase student experience and community access, and to receive gifts from EDA, PayPal, SWEPCO, Capitol One, all while stewarding relations with the institution’s historic religious partner – The United Methodist Church.”

Felton earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Edward Waters College and earned his juris doctorate degree from the Levin College of Law. He is co-founder of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.), an organization that works to cultivate leaders to address the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s HBCUs and he served eight years in the U. S. Marine Corps.

Before being named president at Wiley College, Felton served as president at Wilberforce University and as senior vice president, chief operating officer and vice president of institutional advancement for Livingstone College in North Carolina. He has also served as the director of development, as well as a lecturer at Murray State University in Kentucky.

“He has kept the relationship strong with the United Methodist Church which is very important to Wiley,” Wiley College Board Chairman Billy Casey said. “We made a great choice, and he is doing an awesome job. He’s an accessible president and has made good headway in building community relationships.”

Felton said he and his staff seek to continue to boost enrollment, the university’s retention rate, fundraising and to help students find jobs and careers post graduation.

“My goal is to strengthen our posture and enhance our exposure to shore up our value proposition – as a premier liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church with an intentional focus on social good,” Felton said.

Wiley College National Alumni Association Inc. President Nolan H. Anderson Jr. said he has been impressed with Felton’s leadership and looks forward to the next five years.

“President Felton has reset the legacy and purpose of Wiley College within the Marshall community,” Anderson said. “He has been a plus-plus and a win-win for Wiley College, and we are confident he will continue to expand his vision in the years to come.”