Facing continuing criticism over dwindling finances and questionable executive decision making, Bethune-Cookman University President Edison Jackson has announced his intention to resign, with trustees remaining mum on the date and terms of his departure.
The private Daytona Beach-based HBCU earned attention last week when the Daytona Beach News Journal published an article detailing its weakened financial prospects, with the university operating with losses in excess of $18 million in 2016, and mounting questions over a dorm construction which has cost the university more than $85 million and could cost more than $300 million in lease fees over the next 40 years.
Dr. Jackson, who the News-Journal identified was the alleged victim of a forged signature on that contract, will step down two years after the B-CU Board of Trustees offered him a contract extension, but one year prior to its end.
Officials praised the embattled leader, in part, for his leadership on campus expansion.
“Dr. Jackson has worked hard to take the university to new heights, getting our programs fully accredited,” Bethune-Cookman Board Chairman Joe Petrock told the News-Journal. “Our university has two new residence halls that provide a safe environment for our students.”
In May, Dr. Jackson drew national attention in May for threatening graduates during the school’s commencement ceremony, who booed keynote speaker and US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
In 2016, the school battled headlines which highlighted 13 Bethune-Cookman students shot over a twelve-month period. But officials said Dr. Jackson improved the university’s profile through his community presence and increased student admission standards.