William L. Pollard, the president of Medgar Evers College, announced his resignation last Thursday after grappling with issues regarding students, faculty and the college’s reaccreditation process.
Medgar Evers, the historical college in Brooklyn made up of a predominately African American student body, has been under scrutiny recently as the college’s once exemplary accreditation status was being questioned by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
In a Nov. 15, 2012 report issued by the commission, it was stated that the reasoning behind a warning of unaccrediting the college was that the Periodic Review Report from Medgar Evers last June, “provided limited responses to requested information and necessitated extraordinary effort by the commission’s representatives.”
The report went on to say that the review provided by the college indicated possible deficiencies in three specific categories and required that a monitoring report be submitted by Sept. 1, 2013 to indicate that the institution had “achieved and can sustain compliance.”
“Accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 2 (Planning, Resource Allocation and Institutional Renewal), Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment), and Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning),” said the report.
After Pollard’s first year at Medgar Evers, it was reported by CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress that there was a mass meeting between the administration and faculty, where staff endorsed a statement of no confidence in Pollard and his appointed provost Howard C. Johnson.
During the meeting, Pollard and the provost were harshly criticized for taking a “dictatorial and confrontational” approach to handling academic policy and community relations.
Yvanna Jack, a University Student Senate representative for Medgar Evers, was unwilling to comment on the student’s perspective on the situation. However, several hundred Medgar Evers students walked out of class on Oct. 17 demanding that the school’s president and provost resigned.
This is not Pollard’s first resignation, as he unexpectedly stepped down from his post as University of the District of Columbia President in 2007 after five years on the job.
While there, he was responsible for reaccreditation of the university with the MSCHE, and received a commendation from the commission for his leadership during the evaluation process.
Between 2007 and 2008, Pollard served as vice president for the Office of Access and the Advancement of Public Black Colleges and Universities for the National Association for State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.
Pollard was named president of Medgar Evers in the summer of 2009, after the retirement of former Medgar Evers president Edison O. Jackson.
The appointment of Pollard was made at the recommendation of CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein after nationwide search for a successor to Jackson who had been the college’s president for 20 years.
After the news of his resignation, Goldstein issued a public statement thanking Pollard for his service to the college and its students.
“We are deeply grateful for all that President Pollard has done to advance the vitally important mission of the College during the past three and one-half years,” he said.
“The president has worked diligently to focus this important institution in Central Brooklyn on student-centered goals and objectives, enhancing faculty instruction in the classroom, and on utilizing the new and modern campus facilities in creative and effective ways.”
In his resignation statement, Pollard extended his appreciation to the Medgar Evers community for their encouragement.
“I am proud of these accomplishments and grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve and lead this historic college. I am deeply appreciative of the wonderful support I received during my tenure from faculty, students, and staff.”
Pollard will continue to serve as the college’s president until his replacement is found. In the meantime, Goldstein and Chairperson Benno Schmidt will be working with CUNY’s Board of Trustees presidential search committee to begin a national hunt for a successor.
The Board of Trustees presidential search committee, chaired by Trustee Valerie Lancaster, will be responsible for finding Pollard’s replacement. Other trustees on the committee will be head board vice chairperson Philip A. Berry, Trustee Freida Foster, Trustee Rita DiMartino, Trustee Charles Shorter, Trustee Kathleen Pesile, and Trustee Wellington Chen.
Faculty, student and alumni representation will also be selected as per the Board’s policy guidelines. President Ricardo Fernandez of Lehman College will serve as the presidential representative and the committee membership will include the president of the Community Advisory Council of Medgar Evers College.
Though a tendentious departure, Pollard remains proud of his accomplishments as president and has positive outlook for the future of Medgar Evers.
“I will continue to advance the agenda of progress we have started. I will also move forward with the vision and care necessary to help facilitate a smooth transition. Medgar Evers College deserves our very best efforts and I thank all of you who worked with me on behalf of our student,” Pollard concluded in his resignation.
“They really are our chief priority and we can all continue to support their success, one student at a time, in the days ahead.”
Additional reporting by M. Chase Collum, News Editor