Toldson sets ‘Strategic Vision’ for Southern University

Weeks ahead of the June 30 deadline to select the next president of the Southern University System, the three finalists have been invited to the Baton Rouge campus on Thursday, June 11, for interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders.

But one candidate–Ivory Toldson, Ph.D–has already reached out to the Jaguar Nation via social media to present his strategic vision and rally support.

Toldson, who is deputy director, White


Belton, Hatches, and Toldson (SU graphics)

House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is a finalists along with SU Shreveport Chancellor Ray Belton, Ph.D., and Barrett Hatches, president and CEO Chicago Family Heath Center. (Read Belton, Hatches, Tolson named finalists for SUS president | The Drum Newspaper for more)

In his note on facebook, Toldson wrote:
My Strategic Vision for Southern University

By Ivory A. Toldson, finalist for President of the Southern University System and Chancellor of Southern University and A&M College

I am honored to be among three distinguished finalists who are being considered to be the next president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University and A&M College (Southern University). With visionary leadership, Southern University will carve out a unique niche within the higher education landscape of Louisiana, public land-grant colleges and universities, urban universities, and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Under my leadership, Southern University will be a visible and vibrant university that is open, accessible and fiscally disciplined, and staunchly committed to academic excellence and innovation. This statement outlines my qualifications and my vision for the presidency of Southern University.

Let’s leverage my position with the White House Initiative on HBCUs to help Southern University become the beneficiary and knowledge hub of federal opportunities for HBCUs.

In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed me to be the deputy director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs. In this role, I have helped to devise strategies to sustain and expand federal support to HBCUs, directed efforts to strengthen the pipeline of students from secondary education to HBCUs, examined, interpreted and provided guidance on federal budgets, and worked with HBCU administrators and advocacy groups to access resources from the Federal government


Southern University received about $22 million from the federal government through competitive and noncompetitive grants and contracts during the FY 2013-2014. That same year, Jackson State University received $44 million. Southern can do better, and I can help. I have made many sustainable contacts within the Federal Government and acquired tremendous knowledge about resources available to HBCUs through Title III and Title IV programs, as well as hundreds of competitive grants and contracts. As president of Southern University, I will set an ambitious agenda to make Southern University one of the top recipients of federal resources. In addition to increasing the number of applications submitted, I will position Southern University, through the production of annual reports on federal opportunities for HBCUs, to be a clearinghouse for HBCUs nationally.

Let’s capitalize on my thought leadership and active media presence to booster the brand of Southern University.

If I am selected, Southern University would immediately benefit from having a president who is nationally recognized as a thought leader on educational issues and HBCUs. I am a sought after speaker who has been featured on MSNBC, C-SPAN2 Books, NPR News, POTUS on XM Satellite Radio, and numerous national and local radio stations. My research has been featured in The Washington Post,, The New York Times, The Root, The National Journal, Essence Magazine,, The Grio, and Ebony Magazine. My research was also featured in The Foundation Center report, Building a Beloved Community, for my role in shaping sponsored programs for Black male achievement. My media appearances, op-eds, and high profile speaking engagements will immediately bring positive national visibility to Southern University, which will help with recruiting and fundraising. In addition, as president, I will consider any speaking engagement a part of my obligation to the university. Therefore, I will donate any honorarium received to Southern University.

Let’s use my connections and expertise to help our faculty to become center directors, consultants and media experts.

I am an HBCU scholar, in the sense that my unique experiences developing my research at HBCUs has defined my scholastic identity and led to my success. Faculty development will be a big part of my agenda. I will lead professional development activities for, and co-author publications and grants, with faculty members. Under my leadership, more faculty members to be center directors and thought leaders. I will build faculty members up to the point that other universities will try to steal them away, while creating an experience so great that they will not want to leave.

I spent 3.5 years at Southern University, in Baton Rouge, LA, and 8.5 years at Howard University in Washington, DC, where I was recently promoted to Full Professor. At SU, I was named young researcher of the year after successfully competing for the prestigious W.E.B. DuBois Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Justice. I continued a high level of research productivity at Howard University, evidence by publishing 4 books, 20 articles in peer-refereed journals, 9 book chapters, and 9 monographs and policy reports. I also became the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education in 2008; an administrative position at Howard University. As editor, I managed a staff and a budget and led efforts to modernize The Journal; moving it to an online platform for peer reviews and subscriptions, while keeping it independently owned and run by Howard University. My efforts attracted many new international subscribers.

As president, I will work to make faculty salaries and benefits competitive, and provide incentives, such as travel awards and seed funding, for faculty research. I will use my connections with journals and the media to expand publications opportunities for faculty members. I will push for more public engagement and scholarship among our faculty through proposing a “FAME” (Faculty Advancing as Media Experts) program. We will incentivize faculty members who keep blogs and provide copyeditors, graphic artists and media representation to faculty members who produce research reports.

Let’s raise revenue and build our infrastructure.

As president, I will set an ambitious agenda to make Southern University a Top 10 HBCU recipient of revenue across the following categories: (1) Tuition and fees – achieved through recruiting; (2) Federal operating and nonoperating grants and contracts; (3) State operating and nonoperating grants and contracts; (4) Local/private operating and nonoperating grants and contracts; (5) Sales and services of auxiliary enterprises; and (6) Gifts and contributions from affiliated organizations. As president, I will work with the board and the foundation to engage the government, and actively engage current and potential donors, including philanthropists, alumni, and corporations to fund faculty and student projects. I will use the connections that I have developed over the years that I worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and other nonprofit organizations to bring new donors to the university.

I will also work with the board to continue to evaluate our academic strengths and liabilities, and work to modernize and enhance every program. Every program will work toward accreditation. We will also assess buildings and facilities and create a reasonable plan for minor enhancements, major facility upgrades, and new construction. We will use short term, as well as long range projections to solicit support for the university. We will create centers for excellence, as well as a university-based press to publish and disseminate the work of our scholars. We will also greatly expand online classes and degree offerings, and graduate education. We will monitor national rankings to improve our capacity and sell our success.

Let’s let good data drive our success.

The new hyper-information higher education landscape is a threat to any HBCU that relies too heavily on history and legacy, and ignores important metrics that federal and state governments, and accrediting agencies use to measure our success. We have to understand the vitals of our institutions. We can no longer allow the government to calculate our retention and graduation rates for us. We have to be able to anticipate data indicators at the beginning of the fiscal year and set data-driven strategic priorities. For example, at the beginning of the academic year, an institution should know exactly how many students need to graduate at the end of the year, to achieve a target goal.

In addition, successful universities understand how to use data to target students who may need additional support (e.g. emergency loans, counseling, or academic advising) to get them over the hump.Data transparency will be a hallmark of my agenda, and each year, faculty, staff and administrators at the university will receive factsheets that visually depict our university’s progress toward meeting key benchmarks of success. Our university will also strengthen our relationship with Federal Student Aid, advocacy groups like the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, and scholarship programs. In addition, as president, I will make sure that Southern University delivers high-quality reports to the government, foundations and accrediting agencies. All of this is essential to making sure that Southern University meets LA Grad Act standards, receives favorable ratings from the federal government, and avoids being subject to Heighten Cash Management, or sanctions from having high cohort default rates.

Let’s place students first.

Formal programs will be implemented to improve students’ academic, social, developmental and cultural experiences. Students’ feedback will be actively solicited and addressed. My team and I will also actively address any barriers that diminish any federal or state indicators of student progress, or any threats to accreditation. Specifically, we will have a formal, research-based, agenda to improve the graduation rates, reduce debt upon completion, control cost of education, increase the number and percent of students who matriculate to post-baccalaureate programs, and strengthen career development and placement services.

As president, I will make student functions a priority, and strive to have a personable presence as a role model to students. My family will also advocate for the university, and my wife is interested in leading efforts to support women on campus, to balance my presence as an expert on Black male achievement.

Under my leadership, Southern University will also play a major role in expanding college access to high school students and community college transfers. As a university community, we will institute coordinated and proactive strategies to advocate for college preparation and fair guidance counseling in Louisiana public schools, as well as throughout the United States. Our university will be active in advancing policy solutions to resolve inequities in public schools that impede academic progress of school-age Black males and females.

Let’s advance Southern University

and have fun doing it.

I have a personal leadership style and plan to fully integrate my role as Southern University president/chancellor into my life. I will consider the Southern University community my family, and work to build cohesiveness between the students, faculty, staff, administrators, board, and alumni. I will cultivate personal relationships with board members by supporting their interests outside of the university, including their other work, civic and religious activities. I don’t believe a university president should be reclusive, and I will capitalize on any networking opportunity and always be the best representation of Southern University. I will also take the concept of work life balance seriously, and as I work to have my family as active participants in the Southern University experience, I will create opportunities for our students’, faculty and staff members’ families to enjoy some of our activities and amenities.

Thank you for your consideration of my application to lead the Jag Nation!


Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D.

One Response to “Toldson sets ‘Strategic Vision’ for Southern University”
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  1. […]  Honestly, he wasn’t my pick, (student don’t have a say in Presidents)  I liked the vision of the Dr. Ivory Toldson, Ray Belton was traditional I was witnessing the results traditional. However, I […]

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