Alumnus Henry Ponder Named Acting President at Langston University

LANGSTON, Okla. – Outgoing Langston University President JoAnn Haysbert has named school alumnus Henry Ponder as acting president of the institution.

Haysbert announced Thursday that Ponder will take over as acting president today.

Ponder has held a variety of positions at six historically Black colleges and universities, including a stint as president of Fisk University.

He came out of retirement to return to Langston as an endowed chair and professor of educational and institutional advancement, before being named acting president.

Meanwhile, Haysbert plans to use her accrued leave time over the past six years instead of remaining at her post through the end of the fall semester. The Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges approved Haysbert’s leave last week.

She is expected to take a position as executive vice president at Hampton University in Virginia in the spring.

Haysbert had left Hampton for the top spot at Langston in 2005 after 25 years at Hampton in several academic and administrative positions.

Haysbert said in an announcement that Hampton president William Harvey asked her to return to Hampton, Va.-based school two years ago. She initially declined, saying in a statement that although she “appreciated the attractive offer, I knew we still had work to do at Langston.”

Langston was established in 1897 and is Oklahoma’s only historically Black college. It has three campuses the main one in Langston, one in Oklahoma City and the other in Tulsa.

“While this was personally a difficult decision, I know it is the right one and this is the right time, given what has been accomplished in the past six years,” Haysbert said in the statement.

“I believe in a higher power, so I am confident that the stars are properly aligned in favor of this move.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.