Can a white woman be responsible for branding and recruitment at an all-male HBCU? Morehouse College seems to think so. On May 6, Paula Resley was hired as the school’s Chief Brand Officer and Vice President of Strategic Communications, Marketing and Admissions. If that title sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. In her role, Resley will “direct brand and messaging strategy, as well as targeted recruitment and digital engagement.”
Prior to her position at Morehouse, Resley was Senior Director of Marketing for the U.S., Latin America and Canada at Carestream Dental, an Atlanta-based dental imaging and software company. Although Resley is not Black and has no previous experience in higher education, Morehouse hopes to use her marketing background to help expand the school’s recruitment strategy.
In a news release, David A. Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College President said, “Morehouse is fully committed to leveraging technology and targeted communications strategies to build our brand, expand our impact, and fulfill our mission. Paula’s experience and expertise, particularly in digital engagement, will help Morehouse continue to expand its international visibility and amplify its crucial voice.”
But the reaction on social media has been less than welcoming for Resley. Users believe the hire was tone deaf and that the school that boasts such influential Black male alums as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Julian Bond and Samuel L. Jackson overlooked other qualified people of color who would be a better representation of the brand.
But despite the negative feedback, Resley is all in and says she’s excited to help Morehouse further its mission. “I am honored to join the leadership team at Morehouse College and thrilled to work alongside this inspiring staff, faculty, students and alumni,” she said in a statement. “The Morehouse College mission of developing young Black men to lead lives of leadership and service is something that I believe in and standards I aspire to uphold. With Morehouse College’s decades-long leadership position on social justice, I am motivated by where we will take the College in the decades to come.”