Tuskegee University names interim president

TUSKEGEE, AL - Dr. Andrew F. Brimmer, Chairman of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees, announced the appointment of Dr. Charlotte P. Morris as Interim President of the institution, effective August 1, 2010.

Her selection was the result of an enthusiastic vote of the entire Board. She will serve in this capacity while the search committee completes its work for a permanent president. By Board policy, the new Interim President will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

Morris has served in a number of roles at the University for the past 25 years.  For the past 22 years, she has worked with President Benjamin F. Payton as Executive Associate to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees. In addition, she serves as Director of the Tuskegee University Title III Program and as Chair of Convocations and Special Events. Morris has also been named Associate Dean and Professor of Management in the College of Business and Information Science. She will assume those duties when she steps down from the position of Interim President.

In a statement recommending her for the interim position, Dr. Payton stated, "Dr. Charlotte Morris brings a broad range of knowledge and experience about Tuskegee University's management and governance that is second only to the President's. She is well known and highly respected by the campus community as a strong and able administrator. I am confident that she will handle the role of Interim President wisely and well."

A native of Kosciusko, Miss., Morris completed her undergraduate work at Jackson State University, where she received a B.S. degree in Business Education. The master's degree was obtained from Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., and the Ph.D. degree in Education and Business Management was earned from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. Morris has done further study at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education's Institute for Educational Management, Cambridge, Mass.  Additionally, she has completed coursework in Higher Education Administration at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, as well as summer institutes in Curriculum Development in Higher Education at Pine Manor College in Boston, Mass.

Prior to joining the President's staff, Morris was Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor in the College of Business and Information Science at Tuskegee University. Morris has also served as an instructor at Trenholm State Community College in Montgomery, and she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant while studying for the doctorate at Kansas State University. Other higher education experience includes Program Associate for Planning, Management and Evaluation at Mississippi Valley State University.

A resident of Montgomery, Ala., since 1983, Morris is a Golden Life member of the Montgomery Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.; the Agnes J. Lewis Federated Women's Club (where she serves as Vice President), and she is a member of The Lilly Missionary Baptist Church, (where she serves on the Usher Board, the Sunday School Ministry, and the Missionary Circle). Her honors and awards include the "I Dare You" Award for Qualities of Leadership, service awards from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Jackson State University and Tuskegee University. She was designated a Bush Foundation Fellow in 2005.

Morris is a widow and the mother of one son.

"I am delighted to be asked to play a more significant role in the legacy of this historic institution," Morris said.  "I will inherit a great team, and I am confident that we will keep the institution intact for the new president."

Brimmer said Morris will be the first female to serve at the helm of Tuskegee University, and only the second Interim Head.  She will serve until a new president is named for the 128-year-old institution.  

Payton, current President of the University, who announced in March, 2009 his plans to retire on June 30, 2010, after 28 years of exemplary service, "has agreed to extend his tenure for one additional month, until July 31, 2010," Brimmer said. Morris will assume the role of Interim President on August 1.

Several other actions were announced at the June 18 meeting:  Charles (Chuck) Williams, a Tuskegee alumnus, Trustee and retired Army general, has been asked by Brimmer to take the leadership of the presidential search.  While Brimmer remains chairman of the search committee, he has appointed Williams chairman of its steering committee and has given him authority to manage the search.

The Arlington, Va., firm of Ayers & Associates has been retained to aid in finding a successor to the retiring president.  Ayers & Associates has handled many searches for presidents and senior officers at institutions of higher learning, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.