Howard University has selected academic scholar, Dr. Ben Vinson III, as its new President. Dr. Vinson is currently the provost at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and he is set to take over from Wayne Fredrick, the retiring president, on September 1.
The 156-year-old institution, which is widely known historically as a Black institution that was established to educate free slaves has chosen a Latin American historian as its 18th president. Dr. Vinson’s appointment is said to have come at a critical time for the historically Black university that boasts prominent figures such as Vice President Kamala Harris, and author Toni Morrison, among other great names as its alumni.
The university announced on Tuesday that Vinson’s move comes at an opportune time for Howard, which has scored a series of wins in recent years, including record research expenditures and high-profile academic hires, The New York Times reported. Dr. Vinson will have to sustain the momentum, as well as deal with students who have staged sit-ins and protested conditions at the university.
“Dr. Vinson is the right leader to usher Howard into its next era,” Leslie Hale, vice chair of the university’s board of trustees said in a statement. “As a historian, he reveres the Howard Legacy and brings a bold perspective of where Howard University should sit within the upper echelon of academic institutions.”
Board Chairman of the presidential search committee of the university, Laurence C. Morse, also endorsed Vinson’s ability to lead the university, stating that his academic research and initiatives as a higher education leader demonstrate his alignment with Howard’s mission and vision.
Wayne A. I. Frederick, The outgoing president of Howard University, shared his views about Vinson’s appointment. “I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Ben Vinson III as the 18th President of Howard University. His vast experience and proven track record in academic leadership make him the ideal candidate to lead our esteemed institution into the future,” he said. “I am confident that Howard will continue to thrive under his guidance as a premier center for higher learning and innovation.”
Before Vinson’s appointment, Frederick had spent three decades with the institution as a student, faculty member, administrator, and finally, president until Howard announced his retirement in April 2022.
Dr. Vinson is a scholar of the African diaspora with an eye, especially on colonial Latin America. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and is an accomplished author.