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Florida Memorial Selects First Female President

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. ― Florida Memorial University has named a woman as president.

Faculty members, students and alumni gave Roslyn Clark Artis a rousing welcome Tuesday as she became the 13th president of the historically Black university.

The Miami Herald reports Artis is an attorney and former provost at Mountain State University in West Virginia. She became interim president in June, a move that is typically reserved for temporary presidents who are already on staff. But Artis was an outside hire specifically brought in as interim president.

She said that she believes the university’s board of trustees was reluctant to give a long-term commitment to a new leader. That’s because the school has experienced turnover at the top. Former president Henry Lewis III lasted less than a year and his predecessor, Karl S. Wright, left abruptly in 2009 after two years.

Artis said she’s ready to move forward.

“We’re gonna win, and we’re gonna keep on winning,” Artis said, using football metaphors throughout her speech.

The board chairman, Charles George, said the university is at a crossroads. He said he was impressed by Artis because of her vision and tenacity.

“She has some get up and go,” he said after a vote on Monday to hire her full time.

Artis said she inherited a $3 million budget deficit when she took over as interim president. Through salary freezes, some layoffs and belt-tightening, the deficit has been reduced to $1 million.

“We have not permitted any non-essential travel and that includes my office,” she said. “We’re trying to set the example from the top.”

The Herald reports that her tenure at Mountain State was not without controversy. The university closed in 2012 after a series of setbacks, including the loss of accreditation for the nursing department and then the entire college.

Florida Memorial trustee Marc Henderson said he doesn’t remember Mountain State being “a major issue” during the selection of Artis.

“Old history is just that, old history,” he said.

Freshman science major Markisha Grant said she’s been impressed with the new president. The university upgraded computers in the library, added computers to dorms and is expanding the science building.

She said that when Artis arrived, “everything changed, and it was all for the better.”

The school had an enrollment of 1,579 in 2012, a 20 percent drop from 2000.

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