College In Turmoil After Administrator Dies By Suicide

In the wake of the tragic suicide of a valued administrator who had accused the school’s white president of bullying and racism, many students at a historically Black institution in Missouri returned from Christmas break this week dressed in black.

Students at Jefferson City’s picturesque Lincoln University wear #JUSTICE4BONNIE T-shirts in tribute to Antoinette Bonnie Candia-Bailey, a beloved campus employee known for her warm smiles and habit of welcoming all visitors with an open door policy.

A large portion of the school’s alumni and 1,800 current students are demanding President John Moseley be fired, even though he consented last week to take paid leave while an outside agency investigates.

Questioning his presidency, his handling of tMosely, and if it was suitable for a white man to run an HBCU, a series of #firemoseley social media posts have surfaced.

The board described the 49-year-old’s death on Jan. 8 as “tragic” but declined to comment in detail, citing the need to keep personnel information confidential.

One of Candia-Bailey’s longtime friends and fellow Lincoln alum, Monica Graham, said that she committed suicide in the days following her dismissal as VP of student affairs. Candia-Bailey said in an email that Moseley harassed her and made comments about her being an angry Black woman, a stereotype that has stigmatized women of color “for decades.” Graham forwarded the email to Moseley.

The situation worsened after Candia-Bailey asked for FMLA leave to cope with her “severe depression and anxiety,” according to her writing.

Marybeth Gasman, a historian from Rutgers University who studies institutional racism in America’s educational institutions, claims that most historically Black colleges and universities had white presidents until the 1940s when students started to rebel.

A white president at an HBCU is rare these days, she noted. The only other school she knew of was Bluefield State in West Virginia.

After Moseley’s tenure as head basketball coach and director of athletics ended in January 2022, he was elected president.

According to the emails that Graham revealed, Candia-Bailey brought up her issues with Moseley to the board in November, but they seemed to ignore her.

There will be a funeral on Saturday.