Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees has officially begun the process to identify the firm that will lead search for the Clark Atlanta’s fifth president. After serving as president for three years, Clark Atlanta’s University President Ronald A. Johnson announced on Oct. 19 that he will be resigning in December. Dr. Johnson wrote a letter to faculty, staff, alumni, students and the greater CAU community that his decision to step down as president is due to personal reasons.
“While I am reluctant to leave this great University and its incredible students, faculty and staff, I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished during this period of institutional transformation,” Dr. Johnson wrote. Lucille H. Maugè, a member of Clark Atlanta University’s executive cabinet for 12 years, will become Clark Atlanta’s acting president on Dec. 8, the day after Dr. Johnson is expected to leave. Maugè will serve as the school’s chief operating officer, running CAU’s day-to-day chief operation.
“I am honored to serve as interim president of Clark Atlanta University, a role that affords the opportunity to enact programming around a fundamental belief I have held since my arrival in 2006: students have always been and must continue to be our reason for existing. Therefore, even in this interim capacity, I want one of the major hallmarks of my service to be a substantive, systematic assessment of the student experience here at CAU,” Maugè said.
As a retired financial services executive, Maugè brings a high-level corporate and financial industry experience to the university. She has held positions at Chase Manhattan Bank and was a former chief operating officer for Prudential Private Bank for high net worth clients. News of Dr. Johnson’s departure quickly circulated through social media with mixed reactions from the current student body. Frequent changes in administration have left students wondering about the future of the university, in which there have been four presidents in its 30-year history.
The Student Government Association Executive Board held an emergency town hall meeting on Oct. 23 in Davage Auditorium to address numerous concerns from students. SGA President Warren Hawkins III served as the presiding officer for the emergency town hall meeting and was the voice for undergraduate and graduate students.
The student body was given the opportunity to address any questions or concerns to SGA President Hawkins or soon-to-be-acting president Maugè. Brittany Chambers, a first-year doctoral student, addressed her concerns regarding the declining enrollment of students in the graduate program and lack of funding for graduate students. “There can be no Clark Atlanta University without graduate students. I want to see graduate life and graduate education become a priority again at Clark Atlanta University,” Chambers said. While serving as president, Dr. Johnson increased Clark Atlanta’s six-year graduation from 38 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2018, increased alumni giving, improved first year student retention rate to 70 percent and improved the credit rating.
“Three years ago, I had the honor and privilege of becoming the 4th President of Clark Atlanta University and in that time the institution has made tremendous progress,” Dr. Johnson said in a statement.. “Moody’s Investment Services changed CAU’s credit outlook from negative to positive and we improved our cash balance for the year to over $22 million, which is the best cash position in CAU’s 30-year history. We were also able to
increase student enrollment, enhance student residential and athletic facilities, introduce modernization and curriculum reforms, and improve our ranking on the US News and World Reports Best Colleges list.” CAU is
definitely well-positioned to achieve even greater heights moving forward.”
“As evidenced by these achievements and many others, we have placed our beloved CAU on an upward trajectory that has been acknowledged around the nation,” Dr. Johnson wrote in his letter of resignation. “We are deeply grateful to President Johnson for his service to our university. He made many contributions to the university during his tenure, the most recent being the improvement in the academic quality of admitted students and development of a new strategic plan,” said Gregory Morrison, chair of CAU’s Board of Trustees. “Dr. Johnson departs with an appreciation of the board, faculty, staff, student body and alumni.”
Clark Atlanta University has the largest enrollment out of the schools in the Atlanta University Center, with more than 3,700 students. The University’s Board and others have identified through a broad list of potential search partners that have been asked to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP). The response deadline was set for Nov. 16 and the Board plans on selecting and announcing the chosen firm in early December.
In addition to issuing the RFP, the Board has formed an inclusive search committee to assist and advise in the selection of the next President. The committee includes members of the Board, faculty, staff, alumni and officers of the student government association. The Chair of the Board of Trustees has charged the committee with outlining its own procedures and timetables. “This is both a challenge and an opportunity for CAU, and the Board is committed to selecting a leader who is both innovative and inspirational, and can successfully advance the University to the next level,” said Greg Morrison, Chair of the CAU Board of Trustees. “We will rely on the institutional knowledge of the University community and expertise of the selected search firm to find the best candidates for the next President of Clark Atlanta University.”
The committee has been charged by the chair of the Board of Trustees to outline its own procedures and timetables.