Ben Vinson III, Historian of the African Diaspora in Latin America in as Howard U. PresidentHistorians in the News
tags: Black History, HBCUs, Howard University, African Diaspora, Afro-Latino/a History
A historian of the African diaspora in Latin America who heads academic operations at a research university in Cleveland will become the next president of Howard University at a time of expanding influence for one of the nation’s most prominent historically Black institutions.
Ben Vinson III, provost at Case Western Reserve University and a former administrator at universities in D.C. and Maryland, was announced Tuesday as Howard’s 18th president since its founding in Washington shortly after the Civil War. He will take the helm on Sept. 1, succeeding Wayne A.I. Frederick, who is stepping down after leading Howard nearly 10 years.
Vinson, 52, said that Howard has “serious momentum” and that he expects it will continue rising to the upper echelon of research universities. “There are so many things about Howard right now that really distinguish it as what I would call a fast-moving locomotive train,” he said in a telephone interview.
In recruiting Vinson, Howard’s board of trustees reached into the leadership ranks of a prestigious club that encompasses the Ivy League and other research-intensive schools. Case Western Reserve is one of 65 members of the invitation-only Association of American Universities. Vinson has been its provost since 2018.
Laurence C. Morse, chair of the board, said the appointment of Vinson followed an “exhaustive and thorough” year-long search. He was one of two finalists, Morse said, declining to name the other. Morse called Vinson “a very collaborative and empowering leader, a bridge builder, a culture builder.”
At Case Western Reserve, which has about 12,000 students, Vinson was credited with leading a strategic planning initiative, dubbed “Think Big,” that led to new health sciences partnerships and the reestablishment of a college of lifelong learning. He also oversaw a significant expansion of recruiting Black and Latino students. The share of the freshman class from those and other underrepresented groups rose from 17 percent in 2018 to 25 percent in 2022.