Clarion Spotlight: Dr. Michael J. Self Sr.

Dr. Michael J. Self Sr.

By Darianna McGee/Clarion News
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY- This month the Clarion News is spotlighting one of our newest members of the Blue Tiger Nation, Dr. Michael J. Self Sr., Lincoln University’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Self was hired in July of 2022 (news release here). A few questions for the new administrator.
CLARION: Where are you from?
SELF: “I am from Louisiana, more specifically Baton Rouge.”
CLARION: What made you choose Lincoln?
SELF: “Lincoln has, when I looked at the website, so many things they were working on that seemed exciting. They had a big focus on improving the culture for students and for faculty and staff, and I’ve always been a huge culture person and so that excited me to be able to go to a place and have such a strong cultural blueprint.”
CLARION: What do you see as Lincoln University culture?
SELF: “Well, I see is a place where there’s been a long history, then there’s been a recent history, and I think now there is an opportunity to bridge the gap between those two. What can we hold on to from Lincoln’s traditional history, and what can we embrace from Lincoln’s current reality that now creates a Lincoln that everybody feels that they are a part of?”
CLARION: So far, what has been your experience at Lincoln?

SELF: “It’s been good! The people are friendly. They seem excited about me coming, they seem very excited about some of the things they believe we can do together – so really it has been a good experience.”
CLARION: How have you been connecting with the staff and students?
SELF: “A Lot of talking to people. I’ve been to the cafeteria and just started talking to random students. I’ve had so many meetings on my calendar with different faculty and staff. Just really knowing who people are. Where are you from? What are you majoring in? What are your goals? I feel like I’ve just been interviewing a lot of people and building a mental database of who everyone is, and now that I know who people are, I can see how I can connect with them better. So really just talking to as many people as possible. Not just inside, outside.”
CLARION: How has your past work experience helped you with being provost?
SELF: “I’ve been a dean, I’ve been an assistant provost, I’ve been over academic affairs at many different places. It’s like a hodgepodge of different experiences that enabled me to see different people in different ways that I think have now helped me be able to engage with anyone. And regardless of where you are, I can help you get to the next place.”
CLARION: What’s your favorite thing about Lincoln?
SELF: “A bunch of things are coming to my head. I’m OK with the school colors – blue, gray they go with almost everything. But I also like the fact that when you go into a space, people love Lincoln. Even with all the challenges, all the issues, all the concerns. If you’re at Lincoln, you love Lincoln. The blue and the gray is still a good one, but that love you feel it! You may see people that are frustrated, but they don’t quit.”
CLARION: What are some of the challenges that you see when it comes to student academic success?
SELF: “We have some students that aren’t as prepared, so a challenge is helping them to get to the point they need to be to take off. Another challenge is resources – we don’t always have access to the amount of resources that we really need.”
CLARION: What does working at an HBCU mean to you?
SELF: “Oh man, what I love about HBCU’s the most, and I missed this because I went to LSU. I had to figure out who I was in an environment where it wasn’t always safe to do so. What I love about HBCU’s is that I get to figure me out, without feeling uncomfortable being me. I didn’t have that. I love that HBCU’s provide a safe space for Black students to define themselves. That’s important – the world is already hard when you go outside, so going outside and not knowing who you are is worse. So having a place where I can really groove and figure out who I am? Comfortably without judgment? Man. And I know some people still question the purpose of HBCU’s, but you can’t get that anywhere else. Some people already know who they are, but if you’re still trying to figure out who you really are and what your rhythm is – we provide that.” 
Darianna McGee is a senior journalism student at Lincoln University. She has served on the staff of the Clarion News for three years.

About The Clarion News

Campus and community news produced by journalism students at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
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