After serving 10 years as President of Dillard University, Dr. Walter Kimbrough is heading back to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to continue his higher education work. Morehouse College issued a press release this afternoon announcing that the nationally renowned HBCU administrator will be joining the institution as the Interim Executive Director of the new Black Men’s Research Institute. Morehouse describes the Institute as, “a first-of-its-kind institute dedicated to the in-depth, nuanced, and intersectional study of Black men, their impact, and societal influences.” Dr. Kimbrough will work with Dr. Derrick Bryan, the associate director of the Institute, to expand the service offerings.
Dr. Kimbrough has had a long and storied career in higher education. He started his HBCU administrative journey as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Albany State University, which he credits to how he views his administrative responsibilities. “I will always love my Albany State experience. Great people, great students, and I think I learned how to be a good HBCU president (really just a good president) from Dr. Portia Holmes Shields who was the president there.” Dr. Kimbrough said in an interview with HBCU Pulse in 2017. “Albany State was important in my professional development.”
Dr. Kimbrough departed from Albany State in 2004 to become the President of Philander Smith College, an HBCU located in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his tenure, he raised the profile of the institution and gained the title of “The Hip Hop Prez”. Under his leadership, Philander Smith increased it’s ACT scores 30% and boasted a 77% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate. Dr. Kimbrough’s goal was to change the culture.
Dr. Kimbrough told TheGrio in 2010, “When you talked to the average person in Arkansas, they talked about going to the University of Arkansas, not Philander Smith. They didn’t even know where it was because Philander didn’t have a profile. For me, that was a plus. When you go to a Harvard, there’s research that says a college president can’t do anything to change the culture. At a small college like Philander, a college president can come in and change culture.”
After 8 years, he left Philander Smith College to become the President of Dillard University in 2012. While at Dillard, he increased his national profile and further cemented his place as a standout administrator in both the HBCU and broader higher education community. He became a sought-after lecturer about Black Greek Life (Dr. Kimbrough is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated) and a requested media personality speaking about HBCU life and legislative action.
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Dr. Kimbrough is excited to start his journey at Morehouse College. “As someone who is often asked if I attended Morehouse, which is a great compliment, I am glad to finally be part of the Morehouse family. I’ve been actively working to better outcomes for Black men during my professional career, and this institute gives us an opportunity to develop research and most importantly actionable practices that may be implemented across the country.”
In his Interim Director position, Dr. Kimbrough will be tasked with launching the institute’s inaugural annual symposium, public lecture series, teaching and scholarship fund awards, social justice policy fund awards, and curriculum development workshops. He will also lead an internal advisory board of Morehouse faculty and an external board of prominent scholars in Black Masculinities Studies to guide the early years of the BMRI’s growth and impact, per the press release from Morehouse College.
During the school year, Morehouse will conduct a national search for a permanent Executive Director who will also be appointed as a faculty member.