WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — David K. Wilson, whose transformative leadership as president of Morgan State University, Maryland’s preeminent public urban research university, has guided the historically Black university in Baltimore to new heights as a top-level research institution, will keynote Purdue University’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative celebration in January.
The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse on Purdue’s campus. It is free and open to the public and also will be livestreamed online.
Wilson’s lecture is part of a week of events celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including a Day of Service focused on the theme of food justice and coordinated by Purdue’s Civic Engagement and Leadership Development office. Among the events will be a concert Jan. 19 by the internationally celebrated Morgan State University Choir. Renowned for its stirring performances, the choir performs a repertoire of gospel and contemporary popular music. The choir is noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, especially in the historic practices of performance. Morgan’s choir will be joined onstage by members of Purdue’s Black Voices of Inspiration and Purdue Musical Organizations for portions of the evening's concert.
Additional events and programs will be released at the start of spring semester.
Wilson is a former chancellor in the University of Wisconsin system, associate provost at Auburn University, and associate provost of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He was appointed president of Morgan State in 2010, and the university has soared since. Under his leadership, Morgan has:
- Achieved an elevated classification of R2, a status reserved for doctoral universities with high research activity. Morgan is on the path to become the first historically Black college or university (HBCU) to reach R1.
- Completed the $250 million Anniversary Campaign, the largest in the school’s history.
- Undertaken more than $1 billion in campus construction and planned construction for state-of-the-art institutional and academic facilities.
- Secured the university’s largest ever research contract, a $28.5 million contract from NASA.
- Broadened its academic offering with the addition of more than 40 new degree programs to its present number of 140 (up from 96 a decade ago) and introduction of the internationally known and accredited School of Global Journalism and Communication (2013) and the College of Interdisciplinary and Continuing Studies (2021) – home to Morgan Completes You.
- Significantly increased retention, graduation rates and enrollment. Morgan welcomed its largest incoming class of first-year students and its highest student enrollment in the university’s history in fall 2021.
“President Wilson inspires the nation, and we are thrilled to have him share his experiences and motivate people to personal, civic and even career action,” said John Gates, Purdue’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion. “As we honor the legacies of these two great institutions and our emergent partnership, I expect that we will engage with Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community. We invite all to join us for these exciting events.”
Born and raised in the small town of McKinley, Ala., Wilson was the first person in his family to attend college. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science in 1977 and a Master of Education degree in 1979 from Tuskegee University. He continued his education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he earned an additional Master of Education (’84) and a Doctor of Education degree (’87). He is the author of two books and more than 20 articles in scholarly journals and other publications.
Among the leading voices in higher education administration, Wilson has served on numerous boards including the NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors (as head of the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Committee and member of the NCAA Finance Committee), Lumina Foundation Board of Directors, National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, HBCU/China Network (chair), Maryland Cybersecurity Council and the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Governing Board, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (Finance Committee chair).
Wilson was profiled in a Baltimore Sun story in September as an honoree for the newspaper’s 2021 Business and Civic Hall of Fame.