Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in May that she wouldn’t be running for a second term and still hasn’t revealed her next big plans but returning to school might be part of the equation. Bottoms will be the first honorary fellow of The HBCU Executive Leadership Institute, a new initiative to train people for careers as leaders of historically Black colleges and universities.
The program will be housed at Clark Atlanta University. Bottoms’ tenure as mayor of Atlanta concludes in January 2022 and her new duties as fellow will include speaking to the first cohort of fellows.
“For more than 150 years, HBCUs have not only played an important role in American higher education, but also in building stronger communities and world-class leaders in every sector of society. As a proud graduate of Florida A&M University, I am excited to accept this honorary fellowship and support HBCU ELI’s efforts to ensure this legacy continues,” Bottoms told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The HBCU Executive Leadership Institute aims to serve as an incubator for recruiting and developing the next generation of leaders for over 100 HBCUs. The new innovative program includes a roster that is 58% women, making it the nation’s most diverse cohort of future HBCU leaders.
Georgia has nine accredited HBCUs and there are about 100 nationwide. More than half of the Black lawyers in the U.S. were educated at HBCUs, as well as 70% of Black doctors and dentists. According to the AJC, the average tenure of an HBCU president is about three years, about half the time span of all U.S. colleges and universities. The institute hopes to train people who can lead for more years. There are 26 people currently in the first class of fellows.
“Mayor Bottoms is experienced, intelligent, and has a strong commitment to the next generation of women leaders. As an alumna of Florida A&M University, she continues to remind us that HBCUs can indeed create leaders who help solve society’s most pressing challenges, even in the face of crisis,” said Dr. George T. French, Jr., president of Clark Atlanta University to the news outlet.