Edison O. Jackson will retire this summer after 20 years as president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. But Jackson won’t be resting on his laurels. He’ll be penning his memoirs and hopes to eventually teach and work as an education consultant.
“I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to serve at Medgar Evers College. It was an honor to do so,” Jackson says.
During his tenure, he transformed the school to a four-year program from a two-year college and recruited top-notch educators including Betty Shabazz, wife of slain human rights advocate Malcolm X.
Jackson worked tirelessly on increasing the school’s viability.
“We provide a well-rounded program in an affirming environment,” he says. “We have been able to hire outstanding faculty and we have two Fulbright Scholars. It’s a testament to what Medgar Evers is about in terms of being respected in academia.”
His work extended far beyond traditional endeavors. After noticing a dearth of African American males enrolling into the college and even less graduating, Jackson created the Male Development and Empowerment Center (MDEC) in 2001. The MDEC offers a number of personal finance and business seminars for young men.
During Jackson’s tenure, the college experienced double-digit increases in enrollment, culminating in the largest incoming class in the school’s history this spring. The undergraduate college currently enrolls 6,000 students. Nearly all of Megdar Evers’ graduates and nearly 60% of the teaching staff at the college is black. The school is one of 23 institutions under the City University of New York (CUNY) college system, which serves more than 500,000 students.
As enrollment grew, so did Jackson’s dedication to providing the best resources possible. He spearheaded a fundraising campaign that led to more than $400 million in upgrades to outdated facilities. The college also added state-of-the-art schools of science, health, and technology.
“The City University of New York is losing a dedicated educator and an important leader in the retirement of Dr. Edison Jackson,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Hailing from Virginia, the Howard University alumnus began his career as an education professional in 1969. Working at a variety of colleges throughout the nation, in 1985 he served as president of Compton Community College in Compton, California. After four years, he assumed the post as president at Medgar Evers.
“Medgar Evers has been a beacon of hope for our community. It is one of the few institutions people of African descent have some control over,” Jackson says. “I’ve been blessed.”