June 7, 2015
I Am Going the Wrong Way: The Story of My Life
As I quickly rolled out of bed, I was reminded that I was in England and there was no time to sleep away. My colleagues were off to an Early English breakfast while I was discovering that daylight comes early even in London.
Like yesterday, our arrival day, we toured London and rode the Big Bus (double decker) while getting off periodically to see historic sites and take in lunch. As I think reflected upon my (American) norms walking on the right side of the sidewalk, driving on the right side of the road and standing still on escalators I though hummm, the “right way” to travel is based solely on perspective.
Prior to dinner with our host, Ingleborg; I imagined that the evening air would be cooler than comfortable for me. I chose to go back to my room to retrieve my sweater. As I hurried down the hallway, I almost bumped into an older American woman and said “Excuse me, I am going the wrong way.” The lady responded to me “That is the story of my life.” When I heard her reply, I wondered how many people live and die knowing they are “going the wrong way” but due to pleasing others they choose to stay on the same path. I did not stop to give her a cleaver thought. I retrieved my sweater and thought “why don’t you simply turn around.”
Turning around institutions of higher education is what all practitioners in higher education administration are called to do. As I focus my research on Faith based Historically Black Colleges and Universities, I wonder when will HBCUs “turn around” in the best interest of the institution. Many institutions have the opportunity to turn around if placed in the hands of the right individuals. Right individuals that are right matches both academically and fiscally. I began to ponder if HBCUs board of trustees would be willing to turn around the institution even if the best person to lead it is someone who is white or another ethnicity.
Like the lady who yelled, “that’s the story of my life” HBCUs are beginning to sing the same song. Fiscal and academic challenges are a concern for HBCUs; perhaps turning around could come at the hands of someone who is not Black.