Dr. Edison O. Jackson, Bethune-Cookman University’s sixth president, will retire after 33 years of higher educational leadership on August 31st, 2017. Dr. Jackson brought a wealth of experience and knowledge in administering the affairs of educational institutions. Holding presidency roles at colleges in Newark, NJ, Compton, CA and Brooklyn, NY since 1983, Dr. Jackson came to B-CU a proven leader with the ability to provide solutions to the variety of issues facing the university, where he served eleven months as interim president, and accepted the appointment to become the sixth president of Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) on March 20, 2013.
Dr. Jackson’s leadership has been transformational. During his tenure, the University has experienced tremendous growth and success across all sectors of the institution. The Board of Trustees accepted Dr. Jackson’s request for early retirement and praised his success in record giving from alumni, individuals and foundations; increased enrollment; improvement of student life, creating a true student-centered atmosphere; improved management of university resources; and enhancement of the physical infrastructure, adding over 500,000 sq. ft. of renovated and/or new instructional and living spaces on campus.
Reflecting on his tenure Dr. Jackson stated, “I came to B-CU at a time when the university was broken and in need of radical transformation. Planning to only stay 1 year, I fell in love with the spirit of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Five years later, I am proud to say together the Board and my administration have navigated the university through some of the most turbulent times in the history of higher education. B-CU has survived, has a strong financial and operational foundation and is strategically positioned for continued growth. Having turned B-CU around and after 50 years of leading educational institutions, it is now time for me to give the same attention and care to my family.”
Dr. Edison O. Jackson leaves legacy at B-CU that will be felt for decades. Other highlights of his presidential tenure include development of the B-CU Male Initiative program, the Annual Mary McLeod Bethune Legacy Awards Gala, Daytona Beach’s largest fundraising event, increased number of accredited programs, most recently the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the addition of two new graduate programs, the M.B.A. and M.A.T. were granted provisional approval by SACSCOC, and these two new programs, along with the accreditation of COBE, will greatly enhance B-CU’s ascension to greatness. The School of Nursing and the B-CU Online College became the only USLDA (United States Distance Learning Association) certified programs in the state of Florida, and only the second HBCU in the nation to receive such designation.
While many have questioned the university’s fiscal health, B-CU is stronger than ever. Responding to the changes in the parent plus loan requirements and aged infrastructure, the university made strategic decisions in 2015 to invest and additional $17M of its own resources into student scholarships, hurricane damage restoration, paid off a $3M bank note and physical plant upgrades. These decisions have resulted in a 2016 operational surplus, return to record enrollments and increased retention. The Board of Trustees began the search in April for the successor to Dr. Edison Jackson.