Suicide of Former HBCU Administrator Drives President to Take Leave

Antoinette Candia-Bailey committed suicide after being terminated at Lincoln University of Missouri, but some say abuse may be behind her death.

A Missouri HBCU is dealing with the aftermath of the tragic death of one of its former administrators, and many alumni blamed the current president of the institution for the fatal incident, according to USA Today

On Monday (Jan 8), Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey who served as the vice president of student affairs at Lincoln University of Missouri in Jefferson City, committed suicide after being terminated, according to Sherman Bonds, the president of Lincoln's National Alumni Association.

John B. Moseley, the president of the university, who is White, “has volunteered to be placed on paid administrative leave while that review is conducted" by the university’s board of curators, the school’s governing body. Additionally, a “third-party expert” will be brought in to conduct the review, the school said in a statement.

“As a Board, we are committed to make certain the mental health of Lincoln University employees is a priority and that every employee is always treated with dignity and respect,” said Victor Pasle, Lincoln’s Board of Curators President, in a statement. “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 and 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,” he continued.

Candia-Bailey, a Lincoln alumna who joined the university in May, explained her struggles with mental health, accusing Moseley of “intentionally” harassing and sabotaging her in an email thread.

“You had no intention of retaining me as the (vice president of student affairs),” the email states. “It went downhill after the FMLA and ADA documents were submitted due to my severe depression and anxiety. I requested to be removed under your leadership and from (the president’s advisory council) as this was causing significant attacks. This is all documented and emails sent.”

The email also detailed that Candia-Bailey received a 36 out of 100 on a professional evaluation in November, although she routinely worked after-hours and was not provided with “examples of why her marks were so low. “

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"Lincoln is where it started for me and where it ended," she wrote.

According to local station KRCG, Candia-Bailey sent several emails to Moseley and the board of curators requesting Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the working relationship between her and Moseley went “downhill” as she continued to suffer from anxiety and severe depression. 

“Please be advised the Board of Curators does not engage in the management of personnel issues for Lincoln University and will not be taking further action related to this issue,” the board president's response read.

On numerous occasions, Candia-Bailey said that Moseley repeatedly “ignored requests (failing to respond to emails), or, when face-to-face, danced around the topic.”

Candia-Bailey’s death has sent shockwaves throughout the campus of Lincoln University and has stunned her family and friends, including Monica Graham, who was one of her classmates.

“She can just tell by talking to you that something's wrong," Graham told KRCG. “She will get up in the middle of the night to drive to you, two or three hours to be there for you. It did not matter what she was going through. She always smiled and was always positive.”

Shaunice Hill, another close friend of Candia-Bailey, told the station she noticed the difference in her after she took the new position.

“I was literally just with her at homecoming and she was like ‘I’m just trying to make it through.’ ” Hill said. “Her whole demeanor had changed. Yes, she was still smiling, but you could tell that something was off—something was different.”

Believing that Moseley played a role in Candia-Bailey’s death, many alumni are calling for his termination for his alleged lack of response to her request for help.

Sherman Bonds, president of the Lincoln University National Alumni Association, said that Candia-Bailey’s death has left the school “heavy-laden with despair, discontent, and disappointment.”

“I have become compelled to demand a change in the Office of the Presidency of the University effective immediately,” Bonds wrote in a letter “Today I along with many others assert this appeal to you and the Board. We—the community, family members, friends, and alumni—seek a path to healing.”

Together with the Boris L. Henson Foundation, BET Media Group has committed to fundraising for 1 million hours of cost-free mental health and wellness support for the Black community.  From free therapy to meditation and more, we deserve to thrive—inside and out. To learn more, visit

 If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, contact the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or text the crisis text line at 741-741.

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