New era for historic east Texas college


Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr. was selected as the institution’s new president by the Wiley College Board of Trustees in December, 2017. He was sworn in as President-Elect at the Board’s March meeting.

Dr. Felton officially began his tenure as president on July 1, 2018, succeeding Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, who retired in June, 2018. Dr. Strickland had served as president of Wiley College since 2000, the second-longest-serving president in Wiley College history.

Established in 1873, Wiley College, in Marshall, Texas, is the oldest Historically Black College west of the Mississippi River and is an institution affiliated with The United Methodist Church.

“It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the rich legacy of Wiley College,” said Dr. Felton of his new role at the 145-year-old institution.  “I look forward to working with Wiley trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters to prepare the next generation of servant-leaders.”

Dr. Walter L. Sutton, Jr., Chairman of the Wiley College Board of Trustees, shared, “The Board of Trustees is excited to welcome Dr. and Mrs. Felton to our community.  Dr. Felton is an experienced educator and leader, and Mrs. Felton has outstanding credentials and experience in public service. As a team, we are confident they will make positive contributions to, and have a significant impact on our Wiley community, as well as our Marshall community and region.”

President and Mrs. Felton were married in Marshall, Texas in May of this year and both come to Wiley College with an impressive career and educational background.

Having served eight years in the United States Marine Corps and reaching the rank of Sergeant, Dr. Felton earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UNCF-member institution Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida, and earned his J.D. from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Dr. Felton comes to Wiley College from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he served as the school’s 21st president.   During his tenure, he successfully secured $3.8 million in programmatic grants to strengthen the institution’s master’s degree program; increased career placement through advisement; and created an intramural complex with a $50,000 grant secured from the Home Depot Retool Your School Campus Improvement Program.  

As a result of Dr. Felton’s engagement efforts, alumni support grew significantly, with $458,000 in gifts being garnered at the 2017 Wilberforce University National Alumni Association Conference.  Dr. Felton also secured $350,000 to create the Dr. Mark and Shelly Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship, Social Good and Transformational Leadership.

Prior to his appointment at Wilberforce, Dr. Felton served as senior vice president, chief operating officer, and VP of institutional advancement for Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. He also was the director of development and a lecturer in the Government, Law, and International Affairs Department at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

Dr. Felton is co-founder of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.), an organization ensuring that a pipeline of transformational, highly skilled and principled leaders are identified and cultivated to meet the needs, challenges, and opportunities facing the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  

Katherine Bush Felton has more than fifteen (15) years of public affairs experience, including leadership roles within the Obama Administration and the United States Congress. Most recently, Katherine served as Director of Communication in the Office of the Mayor of Seattle, Washington.  Seattle is Mrs. Felton’s hometown.

Mrs. Felton earned a B.A. in sociology with a Minor in African studies and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington. She also completed the Summer Leadership Institute for Faith-Based Community Development from Harvard University’s Divinity School.

The reception honoring the Feltons was in Marshall’s Michelson Museum of Art, established in 1985 to encourage appreciation of and participation in the visual arts through the museum’s outstanding collection, broad range of exhibitions, and educational programs.

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