Virginia State University Selects New President

Staff Reports, The Progress-Index

ETTRICK — Virginia State University has selected a new president to lead the school as it copes with financial and academic woes.

The school plans to introduce Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D. as the university’s 14th president on Friday. Abdullah comes from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he served as Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

VSU Board Rector and Presidential Search Committee Chairman Harry Black called the appointment “transformative” and said he looks forward to introducing Abdullah to the community.

“I believe Dr. Abdullah is an individual of unique character and ability,” Black said. “His dedication to student growth and moving Virginia State University forward will quickly become apparent to everyone associated with the university.”

Dr. Pamela V. Hammond, interim president of Virginia State University, will continuing serving through January of 2016.

Hammond withdrew earlier this year as a candidate to lead the school. Hammond, a former provost at Hampton University, began serving as VSU’s interim president on Jan. 1, 2015. She was the first female president in the university’s 133-year history.

Hammond was hired after the resignation of the school’s 13th president Keith Miller. Students and university officials criticized Miller after budget cuts resulted in enrollment decreases, closure of residence halls and reductions in dining and other student services.

Meanwhile, officials at Virginia State University said the school will continue to be fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, although the university’s warning has been extended for another six months.

The university was placed on a six-month academic warning in June of this year. Officials said they will use this extended period to address remaining concerns in order to ensure that the university remains fully accredited.

“VSU has provided documentation which transparently addressed compliance with the relevant SACSOC standards,” said Interim President Pamela V. Hammond. “We are committed to continuous improvement of the entirety of the university’s programs and operations and will devote the necessary effort and resources to meet or exceed the SACSOC accreditation standards.”

Hammond said the warning “does not adversely affect the quality of our educational programs and operations,” which includes federal financial aid programs and other research funding.

The accreditation agency has not officially released its decisions, but the university stated that they expect it will this week.