JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Tougaloo College Alumni Coalition for Change has launched an online petition asking for the removal of the school’s president, Carmen J. Waters.

The coalition said repeated failures by school administrators has led to a decline in the number of students, staff members and morale. The coalition’s petition, which has gathered nearly 1,400 signatures, stated that student enrollment has declined for the sixth consecutive semester, reaching a 40-year low.

They also said there has been a noticeable drop in the number of faculty and staff. The college’s website currently lists more than 40 open positions. The coalition said the administration is hurting Tougaloo’s legacy.

“We pride ourselves on our academic rigor and the reputation and the support that the staff and faculty would give to the students. Just take a step back. Listen to the students. Listen to the alumni. Do not take things personal, because I think when we ask questions or ask probing questions is not that we are attacking. We just would like to know what’s going on because of our love for the institution,” said Pearlie McGee, a member with Tougaloo College Alumni Coalition for Change.

Members of the coalition said they have written multiple emails and letters to Tougaloo’s Board of Trustees to try and discuss the state of the college, but they have not received an explanation.

Tougaloo officials sent WJTV 12 News the following statement.

Many of you are no doubt aware of the concerns circulating about Tougaloo College’s future. While we may have different views, we are all passionate about Tougaloo, and that is a heartening testament to our highly engaged community.

To those who have reached out with concerns about enrollment numbers or the future of our beloved college, we hear you. It’s no secret that the enrollment landscape is drastically different than it once was. Getting Tougaloo on strong and stable footing is the driving force of my presidency. It’s what drives our leadership team and the Board of Trustees each day, and it informs all decisions, both popular and unpopular. All of us share a common goal: the sustainability and success of Tougaloo now and into the future, supporting our students and adapting to this new chapter in our history.

My Cabinet, the Board of Trustees, and I are all focused on the concerns many have raised. I’m working hard to address them and ensure Tougaloo stands strong in its next chapter. I look forward to sharing more about my vision with all of you during the State of the College event on Saturday, May 6. 

Carmen J. Walters Ph.D., president of Tougaloo College