Everett B. Ward, the new interim president of St. Augustine’s University, has set forth his goals for restoring the university's integrity, financial strength and reputation.
Ward, a St. Augustine’s University alumni who has served as chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, was appointed last week by.board chairman Rodney Gaddy. In choosing Ward, Gaddy noted that the board had chosen someone who was not only a “recognized leader on national, state and local levels” but a “son of St. Augustine’s University” as well.
Ward also was co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Credentials Committee, vice chairman of the Democratic National Black Caucus and the first African-American executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party.
"My vision for Saint Augustine’s University," Ward said, "is that at the end of my tenure as the Interim President, we will have accomplished the following three things: Strengthened Saint Augustine’s financial position; Strengthened the faith that our students have in Saint Augustine’s...and strengthened the faith that our community and our business partners have in the fact that Saint Augustine’s is an institution of higher learning worthy of their time, talent and investment dollars."
Pursuing those goals, Ward said, will promote a "renaissance" at the university and allow it to "once again be viewed as a premier institution of higher learning."
Ward's appointment comes the week after Gaddy announced that the board "after much deliberation and debate” had decided to relieve former President Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber of her post. Gaddy’s announcement came after a number of reports in local media about financial challenges being faced by the university, departures of top leaders at the university, an inquiry about the university’s accreditation status and other matters.
“When we looked at all the challenges that we have financially and we looked at all the accreditation questions that were coming up, we decided that, in the future, a change in leadership would be very important,” Gaddy said in a press conference April 4.
In announcing Ward's appointment at a press conference on April 23, Gaddy said: “The Board of Trustees is excited about this appointment and we unanimously agreed that he is the right leader for this role at this time.Ward displays a “collaborative yet decisive leadership style that wills serve this institution well," Gaddy said.
Ward will serve as interim president for 12-18 months while the board conducts a national search, Gaddy said.