Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheyney Seeks to Retain Its Interim President University Wants to Stabilize Leadership

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cheyney Seeks to Retain Its Interim President University Wants to Stabilize Leadership

Article excerpt

Cheyney University has asked the State System of Higher Education to depart from practice and name interim campus president Aaron Walton permanently to the job as one of the nation's oldest historically black colleges fights for its survival.

The university's council of trustees on Thursday voted to seek limited dispensation from the system's board of governors. Trustees cited accreditation and other challenges facing Cheyney, as well as Mr. Walton's performance to date in addressing them.

State System board chair Cynthia Shapira said the board of governors will schedule a special meeting to consider the request. If approved, it apparently would mean forgoing the complete presidential search process undertaken before a permanent campus leader is named.

Cheyney has begun to reverse steep enrollment losses, posting modest gains this fall and last after seeing its enrollment fall by half since 2010. It has 755 students.

The university, which the State System described as insolvent earlier this year, is under a mandate to balance expenses with revenues under an agreement through which the system's 13 other universities intend to forgive $30.5 million in emergency loans to Cheyney.

Mr. Walton was named to the interim job May 31, succeeding Frank Pogue, who had held the interim post since November 2014. Mr. Walton is a former senior vice president of Highmark Inc.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits Cheyney, placed the struggling 180-year-old institution in suburban Philadelphia on probation in 2015. In September, the school submitted a plan to the commission to stave off closure by showing its approach to solving its institutional woes.

Mr. Walton is to appear before the commission next week on behalf of the university. The commission is expected to make a decision later this month. …

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