On February 1, 2016, Makola M. Abdullah, PhD., was named the 14th President of Virginia State University (VSU), In his remarks during his introduction to the Trojan Nation, Dr. Abdullah outlined his four core beliefs. “I believe in God. I believe in family. I believe in the transformative nature of education. I believe in Virginia State University.”
Abdullah is an academic administrator committed to excellence. He is an internationally-renowned educator recognized for outstanding research. He is an advocate of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and land-grant institutions. Prior to his appointment as president, he served as provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. (2013-2016), provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Fla. (2011-2013) and dean and director of the 1890 land grant programs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Fla. (2008-2011). Many equate him to being a true educator and a forward thinker who embraces his presidency by holding on to something precious, and relying on alumni to recruit and steer academic excellence in future Trojans.
President Abdullah is a Chicago native who is the youngest African American to receive a Ph.D. and master’s degree from Northwestern University. His earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University in civil engineering. He serves as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence. He and his wife, Ahkinyala Cobb-Abdullah, Ph.D., are the proud parents of Mikaili and Sefiyetu, who are both attending college at HBCUs.
As VSU president, Abdullah leads the No. 12 HBCU institution in America as named by College Choice. Other VSU points of pride include VSU placing fifth among the nation for top producers of teachers. The Department of Art and Design was named the Best Fine Arts Program at an HBCU according to HBCU Digest. The Criminal Justice program ranks third out of 40 Virginia institutions analyzed by correctionalofficer.org. The Reserve Officers Training Corp program is nationally ranked in the country where two alumni were recently inducted in the United States Army Cadet Command Hall of Fame.
In addition, VSU scholars and alumni are beyond great. The U.S. Fulbright Student Scholarship Board awarded a student an English Teaching Assistantship. Sixteen students participated in the prestigious Leadership Institute by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. In August of 2016, a scholar was selected to serve as a student ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs. The University also has an award-winning Gospel Chorale, marching band and athletics program. In June of 2016, VSU alumna, Deshauna Barber, was crowned Miss USA.