ITTA BENA, Miss.
Mississippi Valley State University President Lester C. Newman announced his resignation Friday after serving nearly nine years as leader of the historically Black college.
Newman had been under fire from some faculty members for his management style at the 3,100-student university and had recently announced a reorganization of the school’s administration.
Newman had met behind closed doors on Wednesday with members of the state College Board but had declined to comment when the meeting was over. He said in a statement that his resignation would be effective July 15.
“I have a great love for Mississippi Valley State University,” said Newman. “It is because of my love for Valley that I have made this decision. It is my hope that the faculty, staff, students and alumni will continue on the journey that we started toward pre-eminence and move the institution to new and greater heights.”
Newman said he is exploring other opportunities. The college board must now start the process of finding a replacement.
“The board appreciates Dr. Newman’s years of service to Mississippi Valley and to our state,” said college board president L. Stacy Davidson Jr. of Cleveland. “We wish him well as he explores other opportunities.”
Higher Education Commissioner Tom Meredith said the board will name an interim president before July 15. Meredith said the board will then announce its plans to search for a new president.
“President Newman has moved Mississippi Valley forward on many fronts. We are indebted to him for his efforts,” Meredith said in a statement.
Newman said the university experienced significant growth and development in a variety of areas during the past nine years. He said school has had an increase in enrollment and improvements in salaries and academic programs.
“I will leave Mississippi Valley State University with a great sense of pride in what we have been able to accomplish as an institution under my leadership,” said Newman. “I sincerely hope that those who love the university will rally behind its new leadership and move forward to make Valley the premier regional institution that I know it can be.”
In February, the Faculty Senate gave Newman a “no confidence” vote. In March, Newman announced a new committee to bring members of the faculty and administration together.
Newman, an alumnus of Southern University in Baton Rouge, became Mississippi Valley State’s fifth president in 1998. He succeeded William Sutton, who served as president for 10 years. Newman came to Valley from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.
Valley is one of three historically Black universities in Mississippi. The others are Jackson State and Alcorn State.
– Associated Press
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