Local News

Shaw names interim president

Posted June 2, 2009

— Three weeks after splitting with its president, Shaw University on Tuesday picked a temporary leader to help guide the school through a financial morass.

Dorothy Cowser Yancy, the former president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, was named interim president of Shaw, becoming the first female president of the university in its 144-year history.

Dorothy Yancy, interim Shaw University president Web only: Shaw taps first female leader

"We're going to build upon what we have, and we're going to move forward," Yancy told a crowd of supporters on Shaw's downtown Raleigh campus. "We have a lot of work to do. ... Whatever it takes is what we're going to have to do."

Willie Gary, chairman of Shaw's Board of Trustees, said Yancy "has a history of making a difference in higher education," and he said luring her out of retirement to take the helm at Shaw was a coup by university officials.

Yancy retired from Johnson C. Smith 11 months ago after 13 years as president. During her tenure, she increased academic standards,  expanded technology on campus, tripled the endowment and completed two record-setting capital campaigns.

"We've chosen a lady who was born to lead," Gary said. "Nobody can get it done any better."

Former Shaw President Clarence Newsome left the university on May 12 amid growing discontent among students and staff and a $20 million debt. He had been at Shaw since 2003.

In December, Shaw laid off a number of employees, gave others a pay cut and suspended retirement benefits. Dozens of students also protested about poor living conditions in university dorms.

Each of Shaw's 40 trustees has pledged to contribute $50,000 to the university and to raise additional funds, and Gary said faculty, staff and alumni also would be asked to do more.

Gary said with a laugh that he hoped Shaw wouldn't need to conduct a search for Newsome's successor, but Yancy said she was interested only in stabilizing Shaw and handing the reins to whomever is chosen as the university's 14th president.

Founded in 1865 as one of the first black colleges in the South, Shaw has about 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students.


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  • Celt Jun 2, 2009

    hereandnow99--I think kbo80 is female, so the term would be alumna instead of alumnus.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 2, 2009

    Ms. Yancy certainly has a big mess to cleanup. Work hard!

    Your grammar is killing me. ;-) At the very least, know that you're an "alumnus", not an "alumni".

  • Frank Downtown Jun 2, 2009

    I hope the best. She will build Shaw back to a repected university and also make it a destination in downtown. I would like to see them take over a few blocks and make a campus compaired to Peace College or St Mary's school.

  • Foxtrot Delta Tango Jun 2, 2009


  • kbo80 Jun 2, 2009

    As an alumni, I hope that this works. I will continue to support them and assist with fundraising as well. I also hope that she will come in and make a change for the best but, like President Obama she can not do it alone.

  • PaulRevere Jun 2, 2009

    Good luck! You're gonna need it!

  • happymom Jun 2, 2009

    I wish Shaw the best. It would be a shame for Raleigh to lose such a historic university.

  • highlight3 Jun 2, 2009

    Go Shaw U... first woman president definitley history in the making. You have a great task ahead of you..