HBCU admin dies by suicide; calls renewed to address mental health: 'She touched many lives'

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Calls to address mental health after HBCU admin's death
There is a renewed push to address mental health in Black women after Lincoln University administrator Dr. Antoinette 'Bonnie' Candia-Bailey dies by suicide.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There is a renewed push to address mental health in Black women after a Lincoln University administrator died by suicide.

There are growing calls for the removal of current Lincoln University President Dr. John Moseley after administrator Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey sent him a letter alleging that he harassed and bullied her.

"It just really feels like a nightmare, to be honest," said Shauna Harris, a friend of Dr. Candia-Bailey. "She touched so many people's lives."

Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey and Shauna Harris

Candia-Bailey was affectionately known as Bonnie by her friends, mentees and sorority sisters, including Harris. They are still shocked by her sudden death.

"I went to her for all my issues I had at work, but when I thought, who did she have to go to," questioned another friend Mya Lawrence, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey and Mya Lawrence

Lawrence is an alum of Lincoln University and is part of the National Alumni Association.

"We really want to know they are doing an investigation. They've been sharing that information," she said.

Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey

Both Dr. Candia-Bailey and Dr. Moseley have ties to North Carolina.

Candia-Bailey worked at both North Carolina State University and N. C. A&T.

Moseley worked at North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University.

Lincoln University released this statement to ABC11:

Lincoln University's Board of Curators plans to engage a third-party expert to fully review potential personnel issues and concerns recently raised regarding compliance with the University's established policies and procedures. As part of that process, Dr. John B. Moseley has volunteered to be placed on paid, administrative leave while that review is conducted. Dr. Stevie Lawrence II, currently Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lincoln University, will serve as Acting President during the review process. Dr. Lawrence brings a wide range of higher education experience to this role and will ensure continuity in University operations.

"As a Board, we are committed to making certain the mental health of Lincoln University employees is a priority and that every employee is always treated with dignity and respect," said Board of Curators President Victor Pasley. "The Board has confidence in the leadership team we have at Lincoln, but as we all work together to serve students and the Lincoln University community, this review will fully examine important questions, concerns and gather facts. Dr. Moseley agrees those issues should be examined and has volunteered to go on leave during the review so that it can move forward in a fully independent way."

While the Board and University leaders cannot comment publicly on confidential employee personnel information, the recent loss of Dr. Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey is tragic. This review will be an important part of the Board's commitment to listening and addressing important issues. The third-party review will be conducted at the direction of the Board over the coming weeks.

"There are constant pressures within the workplace with Black women," said Ashley Campbell, founder of RDU Black Therapists.

Campbell is a licensed marriage and family therapist who created the nonprofit out of the need to increase access to mental health professionals. Many of her clients are Black women struggling in the workplace. She recommends taking time off and finding a safe space to talk about your emotions.

"We are largely burdened by having to work harder and be okay with whatever is going on without expressing our grievances for fear of being nagging or complaining," she said. "It's super important to debunk this idea of sweeping things under the rug. That's a cultural thing within our community just not talking about things and burying it all."

The tragic death of Dr. Candia-Bailey is a lesson for her friends who are still grappling with her death.

"Don't take a smile as a sign as in everything is okay," said Lawrence.