On February 1, 2016, Makola M. Abdullah, PhD became the 14th President of Virginia State University (VSU).
In his remarks during his introduction to the Trojan family, President Abdullah outlined his four core beliefs: I believe in God. I believe in family. I believe in the transformative nature of education. I believe in Virginia State University.
President Abdullah also emphasized several focus areas to sustain VSU as an 1890 Land-Grant University. The areas of focus include providing a transformative experience for students, strategically investing in academic programs, partnering with others as a university to tell the VSU story, embracing the University’s Land Grant Mission and embracing VSU’s role as Virginia’s Opportunity University.
Under President Abdullah’s leadership, the University has experienced some significant achievements. The University had a 30 percent increase in the fall 2016 freshman enrollment. In addition, for 2017, the University’s number of first-time freshmen increased nearly 50 percent than the number of first-time freshmen in 2015. The University was recognized as one of the nation’s top 20 “Best Colleges for African Americans” by ESSENCE magazine, established partnerships with local public school systems wherein VSU students tutor students in mathematics and reading, and opened the Academic Center of Excellence as a one-stop hub for first-year students to receive career and academic advising and tutorial services. In July 2017, the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe presented the inaugural Outstanding State Stewardship Award to VSU for the preservation of Summerseat, an historic house built around 1860 near VSU.
President Abdullah is an academic administrator committed to excellence. He is also an internationally-renowned educator recognized for outstanding research. Prior to his appointment as president of Virginia State University, Dr. Abdullah served as provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. (2013-2016), provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Fla. (2011-2013), and dean and director of 1890 land grant programs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Fla (2008-2011).
President Abdullah is a Chicago native who is the youngest African American to receive a Ph.D. in engineering. He earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University in civil engineering and a Master of Science in civil engineering from Northwestern University.
In 2017, President Abdullah was named the HBCU Male President of the Year by HBCU Digest. He also was inducted into the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Alumni Hall of Fame.
Currently, Dr. Abdullah is the vice chair for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors. He also serves as a member of the executive committee for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence.
He and his wife, Ahkinyala Cobb-Abdullah, Ph.D., are the proud parents of two college students, Mikaili and Sefiyetu, who both attend a historically black college or university.