Jackson’s early retirement was reportedly accepted by board members during a meeting, and will end Jackson’s term as the school’s president before his contract was set to expire in 2018.
While the reason for Jackson’s resignation has not been stated, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported mounting financial trouble for the university, especially related to the cost of an $85 million new dorm, originally projected to cost $72 million. The dorm is expected to cost the school more than $306 million in lease fees over 40 years, HBCU Digest reported.
In May, Jackson came under fierce public scrutiny after inviting Betsy DeVos, secretary of education for the Donald Trump administration, to speak at the school’s commencement ceremony. He drew more ire for threatening students who turned their backs to DeVos in protest during her speech.
Students and alumni of Bethune-Cookman protested DeVos’s appearance at the graduation especially because of a comment she made referring to HBCUs as “pioneers” of school choice without acknowledging the racial historical context of Black colleges and universities, which was the only place African Americans during segregation could pursue higher education.
In his introduction to the school posted on the university’s website, Jackson said, “institutions have life cycles which range from 3-5 years. Bethune-Cookman University is no different and, in my opinion, we are moving into a new and exciting life cycle.”
During his tenure, he has been credited for increasing enrollment and improving academic standards for admission. A date for Jackson’s departure has not yet been set.
A spokeswoman for Bethune-Cookman did not immediately return a request for comment.