November 8, 2021

AASCU Welcomes John Silvanus Wilson Jr. as Executive Director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative

Kellee Edmonds
(202) 478-4662

WASHINGTON, November 8, 2021 – John Silvanus Wilson Jr., has joined the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) as the new executive director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI).

MLI provides individuals traditionally underrepresented in the highest ranks of postsecondary education with the opportunity to develop skills, gain a philosophical overview, and build the network and knowledge needed to advance to the presidency.

A former president of Morehouse College, his alma mater, Wilson brings 35 years of experience in higher education to the position – most recently as visiting scholar at Harvard Business School. He also served as senior advisor and strategist to the president of Harvard University and was president-in-residence for Harvard’s School of Education.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Wilson has joined AASCU,” said AASCU President Dr. Mildred García. “His broad experience in higher education administration, as well as his expertise advocating on behalf of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), makes him an excellent fit for this role.”

Wilson succeeds Mary Evans Sias, Ph.D., former president of Kentucky State University who served as MLI’s executive director for the past six years. Under Sias’ leadership, more than 200 diverse senior academic and administrative professionals graduated from MLI. Her fundraising efforts enabled MLI to create opportunities for scholarships and professional coaching, including AASCU’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), which launched in 2015.

Wilson, who is writing a book on the future of higher education with an emphasis on HBCUs, was appointed by former President Barack Obama as executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, serving from 2009-2013. He has held administrative roles at The George Washington University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilson has been a board member for numerous organizations, including Harvard University and Spelman College.

A member of Morehouse College’s class of 1979, Wilson also holds an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and Ed.M. and Ed.D. degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Editor’s Note: A photo of Wilson is available upon request.


The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit us at