Trustees make pre-emptive strike, oust St. Aug's president
Posted April 7, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Saint Augustine's University trustees didn't give President Dianne Boardley Suber the chance to see the end of the academic year, as she had planned, forcing her out of office over the weekend.
Boardley Suber announced late Friday that she would retire at the end of May after 14 years in charge of the historically black college in Raleigh.
The announcement came as the university's Board of Trustees was holding a telephone conference call to discuss her future. Board Chairman Rodney Gaddy said Monday that the board voted during the meeting to oust Boardley Suber but couldn't reach her to notify her of the move.
Gaddy said her retirement announcement surprised him and other trustees, but he was able to contact her Saturday to inform her that she was out of a job.
"When we looked at all the challenges we had financially and we looked at the accreditation questions that were coming up, it was just decided that, in the future, a change of leadership would be very important," Gaddy told students, staff and reporters on Monday.
In response to a decline in enrollment and tuition revenue, the Board of Trustees also cut more than a dozen staff positions earlier this spring.
The problems run deeper than just the financial. Saint Augustine's also is under investigation for allegedly providing false information on a federal grant proposal. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits the university, has also requested information regarding the school’s finances.
Ronald Brown, vice president of strategic initiatives, will serve as acting executive director of Saint Augustine's until the board can name an interim president, which Gaddy said could happen in the next two weeks.
"We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us," Gaddy said. "The board is excited about the future of Saint Augustine’s, and really, this is a time of new beginnings for us and exciting possibilities."
He called on trustees and alumni to boost their financial support of Saint Augustine's and help recruit students.
"This is a strong university and a place where we can provide strong education," he said. "We have to make sure we’re sending signals to potential students of Saint Augustine’s that we are, in fact, a viable institution.
Boardley Suber was the second high-ranking Saint Augustine's administrator to lose her job in two days. On Thursday, she fired Angela Haynes, the school's vice president of business and finance.
Students and faculty said the recent financial woes – the school's football stadium remains unfinished because of a lack of funds to complete it – and questions about the administration have led to low morale and increased tension on campus.
Tracy Downing, an adjunct professor who teaches a financial literacy seminar, said she hasn't been paid for her work this semester. Gaddy promised to look into the situation.
"I teach my students how to be good financial stewards, how to budget their money and manage it. However, I feel like the university has not done that," Downing said.
"A lot of people have been concerned about whether the school was going to be open or whether it was going to close," junior Damien Arrington said. "Hopefully, the image and everything, hopefully it will get better."