ATLANTA -- Some students and faculty at Morehouse College are upset over a recent Trustee Board vote to remove Morehouse President Dr. John Wilson from his post, opting to not renew his contract after 4 years.
Those in opposition said the decision was made suddenly and without explanation, after three student trustees said they were excluded from Friday's meeting.
Johntavis Williams, Johnathan Hill and Moses Washington told 11Alive News that, as student board trustees, they tried to attend the meeting. But they, along with the three faculty trustees, were told to leave with the board citing conflict of interest. As a result, they were not present for the vote to remove Dr. Wilson as Morehouse College president.
"We're all overwhelmed," said student trustee and SGA President Johnathan Hill. "We were elected to have a voice - that's what we wanted. We wanted to be able to assess the president and his performance."
The three students have taken legal action against the board chair, hoping a judge will cancel the actions of Friday's meeting and order a new vote where all trustees are present.
Wednesday morning, some members of the Morehouse faculty also spoke out against the decision. Derrick Bryan, chair of faculty council at Morehouse College, issued the following statement:
"We, the faculty of Morehouse College, strongly object to the decision by the Board of Trustees not to renew the contract of President John S. Wilson without explanation and without the inclusion of faculty and student trustees in the discussion and decision. The faculty also expresses concern regarding the timing of the board's decision. We demand an explanation and will investigate these decisions."
After 4 years at the helm of Morehouse College, President Dr. John Wilson told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander the termination comes as a surprise.
"I think a lot of people are expecting some clear articulation of why this happened," Wilson said, adding that he regrets he has to leave the college now.
Last October, a group of more than 300 people, including Morehouse alumni, signed a petition demanding Dr. Wilson be removed as president, adding that some graduates felt alienated from the school.
Wilson said that group constituted less than two percent of the school's alumni network. When asked if he thought the petition played a role in his termination, Wilson said: "I would like to think it did not."
"There is not a president that I've known or know about that hasn't had critics," Wilson said, adding that at the time, he and his staff addressed the petition "with facts."
Wilson, a Morehouse graduate himself, said he plans to work hard for the school during his final months in office.
"I know I serve at the will of the board, and the board made a decision," he said.
"I am a Morehouse man and that will never change. And I am going to be the Morehouse president for the next 6 months."
The Board of Trustees, through a spokesperson, declined further comment on the decision.