Rolling Out

White president at HBCU cleared of bullying Black female administrator

Dr, Antoinette Candia-Bailey left a note about the ‘harm and mental damage’ she said Dr. John Moseley had caused her
Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey. (Photo credit: Lincoln University)

Two months after a Black female administrator at a Missouri HBCU took her life — alleging in her last note that she had been the victim of her White male president’s “stigmatized bullying” — the school cleared the president of wrongdoing.

The Board of Curators at Lincoln University, an HBCU in Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, declared that President Dr. John Moseley “has not, and does not, engage in bullying or harassment of Lincoln University employees.” Specifically, that included Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey, who served as the school’s vice president of student affairs and whose death on Jan. 8 spurred the internal investigation.

The university’s statement, posted on the school’s website, said in part that the “investigation did find that some workplace stress existed, leading to strained relationships among and between University employees, including those in senior leadership positions. Those concerns have been largely addressed, and the Board will be working with President Moseley on improvements to staff operations and increased staff training and operations. … However, nothing in the report finds that President Moseley engaged in bullying or failed to respond with appropriate accommodations under the FMLA [Family Medical Leave Act] or the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act].”

A vote of confidence in HBCU’s president

“For us, this report is not the end of a process, but rather the beginning of one,” Victor Pasley, the board’s president, said in a statement. “None of its findings have led the Board to doubt President Moseley’s ability to lead the University, but this tragedy has forced us to grapple more fully with issues facing Lincoln and our individual students and employees — ranging from mental health support to employee work and relationships.”

On the day she took her life, Candia-Bailey asked anybody but Moseley to inform her family of her death.

“You are not to have any contact,” she wrote to him. “You’ve caused enough harm and mental damage.”

Candia-Bailey, a Lincoln alumna and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, had also reached out to the board last November, only to receive a reply from Pasley that it “does not engage in the management of personnel issues for Lincoln University.” The university’s human relations department reprimanded Candia-Bailey for taking no responsibility for “poor work.”

Less than two months later, on Jan. 3, Candia-Bailey was out of a job, fired for “insubordination.” Her formal termination letter cited a mishandling of student housing matters and a mismanagement of her staff, according to her formal termination letter.

President was on paid leave during investigation

Moseley, who has been at Lincoln since 2014, has worked at HBCUs throughout his career. He became the university’s president in 2022 after being its athletic director and head basketball coach. Moseley also has been an assistant basketball coach at North Carolina Central and Winston-Salem State universities.

Members of the LU Alumni Association had demanded Moseley resign or be fired and started a hashtag — #FireMoseley.

“Dr. Antoinette ‘Bonnie’ Candia-Bailey’s tragic loss to suicide calls us to action,” Alexis Anginette Wells posted on Instagram on Jan. 11. “Join us in solidarity with Lincoln University of Missouri to demand accountability and stand against the silence surrounding mental health and bullying. Together, we can spark a movement for a safer and more compassionate world.”

Moseley has been on paid leave while the investigation took place. Dr. Stevie Lawrence II, the school’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, has served as president in the interim.

“The Board advised me of the report’s findings a week ago, and I’ve had time to reflect and to discuss my future and that of the University with my family and members of the Lincoln University community,” Moseley stated. “I care deeply for this University, its mission, our students, staff and faculty and I look forward to returning from administrative leave to resume my duties as President.”

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