Dr. Antoinette Bonnie Candia-Bailey was known for keeping her office door open and greeting everyone at Lincoln University Missouri with a smile. Her untimely passing has sparked a nation wide conversation on mental well being in academia and most recently, spurred student protests in Jefferson City, MO.

Alexis Anginette Wells, a close friend to Dr. Bailey shared that her sisterhood with the beloved alumni “was an unbreakable connection and that her story deserves to be heard.”

Dr. Bailey with A.K.A. Soror students on Lincoln University campus.

Returning from Christmas break, many Lincoln University students and community members organized a protest outside the campus in honor of beloved alumni, Dr. Bonnie Bailey, who passed away on January 8th from suicide.

“We do want to see the removal of Dr. Moseley, as well as the board of curators and everybody else who was responsible,” said 22-year-old senior Xoe Binford, who was among about 30 protesters at a curators meeting on January 11th.

President John Moseley agreed to go on paid leave pending a third-party investigation.

However, many of the school’s 1,800 students and alumni group are calling for his termination. A string of #firemoseley social media posts have questioned his qualifications, his treatment of Dr. Bailey and whether it was appropriate for him to lead an HBCU.

Moseley was named as president in January 2022 after serving as the school’s director of athletics and basketball coach.

“Why would you appoint a white president for such a position?” asked 53-year-old Eric Malone, who met the late administrator when they were both students at Lincoln and kept in touch with her over the years. His main concern, though, was Moseley’s qualifications.

From left to right: Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Bailey and Dr. John Moseley.

Most historically Black colleges and universities had white presidents through the 1940s after which graduates began to push back, said Marybeth Gasman, a Rutgers University historian whose research focuses on systemic racism in higher education.

“Today, a white president at an HBCU is a rarity,” she said. “As it’s rare…we do know from research and many examples that Black women are often mistreated, bullied, and harassed in the workplace by white men and others. They have to contend with sexism and racism as well.”

In an email shared with HBCU Buzz, Candia-Bailey detailed the problems she was having with Moseley, including saying that he harassed her and alluded to her being “an angry Black woman,” which she described as a “stereotype that has demoralized Black women for decades.”

Candia-Bailey wrote that the situation deteriorated after she requested time off through the Family Medical Leave Act to deal with her “severe depression and anxiety.”

Emails shared show Candia-Bailey reached out to the board in November 2023 about her troubles with Moseley, and that the board apparently dismissed her concerns. The board president, Pasley, told Candia-Bailey that the board “does not engage in the management of personnel issues for Lincoln University and will not be taking further action related to this issue.”

“As a University community, we want to prioritize the mental health of everyone here and make sure each employee and student is treated with dignity and respect,” Board of Curators President Victor Pasley said.

The board described the 49-year-old’s death on Jan. 8 as “tragic” but declined to comment in detail, citing the need to keep personnel information confidential.

Moseley has not responded to emails seeking comment.

Cierra Tillman, a freshman computer information systems major at Lincoln, said she hoped the protests achieve “justice, not only for Dr. Bailey, but to raise mental health awareness for every student on campus and every other faculty or staff.”

“Her voice should have been able to be heard before we got to this point,” Tillman said.

As we previously reported, Lincoln University’s Board of Curators announced last week that they selected Lewis Rice Higher Education Practice Group to lead the independent investigation into the university’s administrative practices.

The review will examine Lincoln University’s management of “personnel issues and address any relevant concerns associated with the allegations of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey,” the BOC stated. The firm’s comprehensive review began this week and should be completed within the coming weeks – allowing time for a full investigation. 

We continue to cover this story and keep Dr. Bailey’s family, friends, and Jefferson community in our thoughts and prayers during this time.