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HomeGeneralHBCU Administrative Suicide Raises Questions About Black Mental Health

HBCU Administrative Suicide Raises Questions About Black Mental Health

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A picture of Candia Bailey
Source: Phil_Lewis_/X

A proud alumna of the historically Black college, Candia-Bailey—affectionately known as “Bonnie” to her friends—placed a Lincoln University bumper sticker on her mom’s new car during her freshman year. Upon graduating in 1998, her mother commemorated the occasion by purchasing a brick in her name.

Last May, when Candia-Bailey returned to her alma mater in Jefferson City, Missouri, as the Vice President for Student Affairs, friends recall her excitement. So much so, they say, that she purchased a second brick to commemorate her new role.

On January 8, Candia-Bailey died by suicide. This occurred five days after being terminated from her position, with reasons cited, including allegations of failing to address employees’ concerns under her supervision, as stated in the termination notice.

In a final note emailed to staff at the university and friends, one of whom shared the letter with CNN, Candia-Bailey outlined a stark reality that differed greatly from her initial aspirations for the position.

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She asserted that she was subjected to “harassment and bullying” by superiors and felt disregarded when she raised concerns about her mental health. Currently, a university investigation is underway into these allegations.

The aftermath of Candia-Bailey’s death has raised painful questions for Lincoln University staff and students. It has sparked discussions nationwide about mental health concerns among people of color in the workplace.

Candia-Bailey held her position at Lincoln for less than nine months before being terminated. Her final letter, obtained by CNN, is a nearly 6,000-word email.

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It includes screenshots of text conversations, emails, and web links alleging failed communication efforts, a lack of professionalism, and inappropriate behavior by senior leadership.

She also outlined personal grievances with Lincoln University President John Moseley, her boss, alleging mismanagement and discrimination. Candia-Bailey’s letter wasn’t solely accusatory. The administrator also delved into her own mental health challenges and reflected on the risks of remaining in what she described as a highly stressful job.

Monica Graham, a Lincoln University alum and friend of Candia-Bailey, expressed her shock to CNN regarding the email. “Reading the things that I read in that letter, it made me cry,” Graham stated. “It did. Because I didn’t know it was that bad.” She added, “She was suffering in silence.”

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A month after Candia-Bailey’s death, Lincoln alumni and students are still grappling with grief. They are calling for accountability from school officials they believe had a hand in her claims of mistreatment. 

ALSO READ: Medical Examiner Says Man Who Fatally Shot Three Minnesota Officers Died By Suicide

School President Moseley has not publicly addressed the allegations. He has gone on paid leave. The school’s board has hired a third-party team to review the university’s management of personnel issues. They will also investigate the allegations made by Candia-Bailey.

“As a Board, we are focused on having an independent expert promptly examine all of the facts so that we can take appropriate steps,” said Board of Curators President Victor Pasley in a January 18 statement. “As a university community, we want to prioritize the mental health of everyone here and make sure each employee and student is treated with dignity and respect.”

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