Three HBCU Presidents Announce Their Retirement: Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, President Frank G. Pogue Jr., and Dr. Donald Reaves

Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, president of St. Augustine’s University, is one of three HBCU presidents that have resigned within a two-week span.
Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, president of St. Augustine’s University, is one of three HBCU presidents that have resigned within a two-week span.

The Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) community, which has been rocked by leadership turbulence for much of the past three years, was jolted again last week when two HBCU presidents surprised their respective institutions with announcements they plan to leave their posts in a matter of weeks.

Late Friday afternoon, Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, president of St. Augustine’s University, announced she was “retiring” at the end of May, ending a 14-year stint as chief executive of the private, liberal arts institution.

At Grambling State University, President Frank G. Pogue Jr. announced he was leaving June 30, ending a four and a half year stint with the state-controlled institution that has seen its state support cut by more than 50 percent over the last six years.

Their departures came just two weeks after Dr. Donald Reaves, chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, announced he will step down on December 31 after seven years.

Suber’s decision to depart, just as she was starting to make plans to celebrate her 15th year as president in December, came at the end of a turbulent behind-the-scenes battle in recent weeks with several of her top aides.

The differences, most of them centered on how best to handle the university’s deteriorating financial condition, resulted in Suber putting the university provost on leave several weeks ago and, earlier last week, firing the vice president for business and finance. Other staffers reassigned or departed, after disagreeing with Suber over the pace and breadth of budget cuts they felt were urgently needed.

“Sometimes we tend to ‘stay too long at the fair,’” Suber said in her retirement statement. “More often, we stay just long enough.”

On Thursday, in a statement explaining the “changes” to the St. Augustine’s Executive Management Team, Suber said the university was “at a critical juncture…”

“…We need to be vigilant in assuring that every administrator on the team shares both the mission and the vision of the University,” she said. “In these times of extreme financial challenges, and given the current political landscape of our country, that sometimes means putting our personal philosophies on a back burner and supporting practices that strengthen the infrastructure of the University over the long haul.”

That statement was issued as word spread throughout the university community that it was the vice president for business and finance who sent an audit report to the university’s board, asserting that the president was not following the university plan and that her actions were not improving the institution’s precarious financial condition.

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Source: Diverse Education | Reginald Stuart

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