NAACP, black ministers back McCurdy, cite successes


First Posted: 1/14/2009

LIMA - Local black leaders stood up for Rhodes State College President Debra McCurdy Tuesday, saying without a question she should remain at the school.

The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black Ministerial Alliance said McCurdy's successes speak for themselves and that they should be the focus of her contract renewal discussions.

"If this were any other circumstance, we would be talking about how many years her contract would be extended, how much her raise would be," said NAACP President Jason Upthegrove during a news conference at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

McCurdy's job performance has been a hot topic as of late, with some questioning her leadership skills and a few board members recently voting to not renew her contract, which expires June 30. The board is expected to continue discussions, but a meeting has not been set. Her supporters will be there, said the Rev. Fayne Wise, president of the ministerial alliance.

"I'm proud to have her here," Wise said. "And I will do all that I can to help her and encourage her and to encourage other people like her to come to our community knowing that when they come, they are going to be received and respected."

McCurdy could not be reached for comment.

Board Chairman Dr. Wilfred Ellis and member Keith Cunningham have said racism and sexism are playing a part in those wanting her gone. Upthegrove and the ministers both declined to comment, saying they are not going to speculate on the reasons why some have come out against McCurdy.

"We are not here to examine motivations of those who have expressed fruitless disaccord, but more importantly to accentuate these factual accomplishments. To promote fairness and truth," he said.

Upthegrove presented a long list of successes, including increased total enrollment and that of minorities, summer enrichment programs for area middle and high school pupils, recent national accreditation, added Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, building renovations, entrepreneurial training opportunities and being one of the partners in securing a Third Frontier grant.

"These are clear indications of how Rhodes State, the Lima-Allen County community and surrounding communities have benefited from Dr. McCurdy being here in our community," he said.

Upthegrove also credited her with some important hirings, including a director of community outreach. Upthegrove and others were invited by McCurdy when she first arrived in Lima to discuss the school building stronger ties in the community, he said.