“Mr. J. H. Washington: The following matter I wish you to give immediate attention to today. The exposure to girls and lady teachers of the girls water closet is something disgraceful, and I wish you would take hold of the matter at once and arrange so that the boxes and general back part of the water closet can be shielded from view of the lady teachers and girls passing to and from the chapel. -“Booker T. Washington, “December 26, 1903”
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
While the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University was equally concerned with both the sons and daughters of Mother Tuskegee, Mr. Washington was particularly careful with respect to attending to the residential areas of female students. Note, Mr. Washington wanted his brother-his older brother-“to give immediate attention to [it] today.” Living-learning environments need not only be in keeping with standards but these should also be safe and secure. Once again, Mr. Washington demonstrates that the responsibility of the institution’s chief executive officer is an admixture of matters external and internal-not one or the other. The mothers, fathers and family members of those students that were, are and will continue to be sent to Tuskegee University expect no less. Here again, an institution’s vision must connect with its mission, and its trajectory with its tradition, and Mr. Washington was crystal clear that the success of his Tuskegee University students also encompassed the safety and security of his Tuskegee University students.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University