Education

St. Aug's removes 'interim' from new president's title

Posted April 10, 2015

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— A year after he was appointed interim president amid an administrative shake-up at Saint Augustine's University, the school's Board of Trustees on Friday named Everett Ward the 11th president of the historically black university.

"For the last 12 months, working together, we have done some great things here at Saint Augustine's," Ward told students, faculty and others during an introductory news conference. "Together, we're going to do even greater things in the years to come."

A Saint Augustine's alumnus who was even born on the school's Raleigh campus, Ward served as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2011 and also heading a couple of advisory boards through the years.

"To serve Saint Augustine's has never been a difficult decision for me. The life and blood of Saint Augustine's runs through my every vein," he said.

Last April, the board ousted then-President Diane Boardley Suber as the university faced declining enrollment, financial challenges and an investigation by its accrediting organization.

Ward was brought in to right the ship, and he quickly laid off several dozen employees and made other adjustments to cut costs. Later, he announced plans to streamline its academic focus and boost fundraising and community partnership efforts.

"We've created much more engaging environment for students," he said Friday, noting Saint Augustine's is trying to focus on its "four academic pillars" of mass communications and journalism, STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), criminal justice and public health.

Saint Augustine's "continue(s) to have financial challenges," he said, declining to be more specific. He said he would continue to work with the board to solve them, adding that the school is "on the journey" to recovery.

“We are impressed with the amount of change that Dr. Ward has been able to effect in such a short period of time," board Chairman Rodney Gaddy said in a statement. "The stability and restoration of faith in the institution that he has achieved is evident and we are looking forward to what’s next.”

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