On February 1, 2016, Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D. 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 as a top Land-Grant University and embracing the University’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, recognized by ESSENCE magazine as one of the nation’s top 20 “Best Colleges for African Americans”, established partnerships with local school systems where 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.
President Abdullah is an academic administrator committed to excellence. He is 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. He serves as member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence. Currently, he is the vice chair for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors.
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.