Clarence G. Newsome Named 13th President of Shaw University
Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, longtime dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity, becomes Shaw University’s 13th president on April 1. Newsome’s appointment was officially announced in mid-February at a news conference for trustees, alumni, students as well as the media.
Newsome, 52, says within 10 years he wants to increase Shaw’s endowment to $50 million, quadruple its enrollment — to more than 10,000 — and embark on a building program.
Newsome also says he wants to continue to better the 138-year-old university by improving academics, increasing research and raising money.
“We’re going to grow,” says Newsome, who replaces outgoing president Dr. Talbert O. Shaw. Shaw accepted the presidency during some of the university’s darkest days and was the catalyst for getting the school back on a firmer foundation. Shaw, no relation to the name of the university, led the school for 15 years. The 75-year-old Shaw had planned on retiring Dec. 31 but agreed to remain until his successor was named.
Newsome is a native of the Eastern North Carolina town of Ahoskie and the son of a school principal. He received his bachelor’s from Duke University. While at Duke, he lettered in football and was twice named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic Team. Newsome was Duke’s first Black student commencement speaker, delivering an address called “An African Concept of Time and a Theme of Liberation in the World Community.”
Newsome went on to obtain a master’s of divinity at Duke, graduating magna cum laude. He took a year off to serve as acting dean of minority affairs and director of Duke’s Summer Transitional Program for high school students.
Newsome won the James B. Duke Dissertation Year Fellowship while pursuing his doctoral studies. After graduating, he was a popular professor at Duke Divinity School for eight years. While on the faculty, he also served for a time as pastor of a Baptist church and was a leader in the General Baptist Convention of North Carolina, the largest African American Baptist state convention in the United States.
Newsome arrived at Howard University School of Divinity in 1986 as the assistant dean. He became associate dean in 1988. When Dr. Lawrence N. Jones retired in 1991, Newsome was tapped to be acting dean and the next year was named dean of the divinity school officially.
“Shaw’s gain is clearly Howard’s loss,” says Dr. A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, Howard University provost. “Dean Newsome is a strong, charismatic and dynamic leader, who has done much to herald the accomplishments of the School of Divinity.”
Newsome shepherded the School of Divinity through two 10-year reaccreditation reviews and established its first Office of Institutional Advancement and Development. During his years at the helm, applications increased 40 percent.
“I think this is a perfect match for Shaw. He’s very impressive,” says Dr. Joseph Bell, vice chairman of Shaw’s board of trustees. “Dr. Shaw will always be a legend and will go down in history. He took the job when things were dark. He left the university in a good position and now Dr. Newsome will take it to the next level. We won’t miss a beat.”
— By Eleanor Lee Yates
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