Tuskegee University President Announces Retirement

Style News Wire | 3/23/2009, 6:13 p.m.
After 28 years of exemplary service and extraordinary accomplishments, Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, the fifth President of Tuskegee University, informed ...

[caption id="attachment_3744" align="alignleft" width="241" caption="Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, President of Tuskegee University"]

After 28 years of exemplary service and extraordinary accomplishments, Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, the fifth President of Tuskegee University, informed the Board of Trustees today of his intent to retire from the Tuskegee University presidency, June 30, 2010. The Board of Trustees accepted Dr. Payton’s letter of retirement with much reluctance but great appreciation and thanks for the outstanding work he has done at Tuskegee. Dr. Payton had made it clear that he would only continue through the achievement of such major objectives as the University’s third decennial reaffirmation of accreditation under his leadership by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as well as certain specialized accreditations of professional programs, such as architecture, veterinary medicine, nursing, teacher education, and engineering, as well as the completion of major renovation and new construction plans.

Speaking for the entire Board of Trustees, Dr. Andrew F. Brimmer, Chairman of the Board, observed that Dr. Payton’s “transformative and clear sense of what Tuskegee University could and should become, and his solid leadership, including his enormous fundraising capacities, have enabled him to achieve all of these goals by mid-March 2009.

“He has led the University through some very tough times – to its current status of financial stability, academic excellence and even distinction in athletics,” Dr. Brimmer said.

Other trustees at the University gave strikingly similar assessments of Dr. Payton’s tenure at Tuskegee. Dr. Bernard Anderson, First Vice Chair and Chair of the Educational Policies Committee, recounted that, “President Benjamin Payton’s retirement caps an extraordinary era of leadership at Tuskegee University. He led Tuskegee to unprecedented heights of academic excellence, service, and national distinction in higher education. The African-American community, and the nation at large, owes him a deep debt of gratitude.”

Steve Canter, Second Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee of the Board, stated that, “The academic vitality and financial strength of Tuskegee University today are directly attributable to Dr. Payton’s visionary and tireless leadership over the last 28 years. He has led Tuskegee University with wisdom, grace and respect from students, alumni, faculty, administration, and the Tuskegee University community.”

Sheron Rose, a state-appointed trustee and graduate of the institution, said that, “Since 1981 as an undergraduate student, I have had the privilege of watching the leadership of Dr. Benjamin Payton across the width and breadth of this country. ~~He has always taken the opportunity to make sure that the world is informed, based on the pure facts, about the many, many contributions of this University to the world.~ One of my favorite examples of his leadership has been his insistence that students understand the expectations of them that come with being a Tuskegee University student and/or graduate.”

The following comments came from the Tuskegee University campus community: the oldest, still active member of the Tuskegee University faculty, Professor Frank Toland, from the Department of History and Political Science, said, “There’s no question that he’s been a great president. It’s amazing the success that Tuskegee has had in choosing good presidents. All of our five presidents have been change agents and executors. Dr. Payton is in line with the great presidents Tuskegee has had. He’s been a deliberative builder and a change agent. He has also sought to preserve and expand the unsurpassed legacies of Tuskegee.” The Chair of the Department of English asserts that Dr. Payton’s presidency has been marked by expansive vision, bold initiatives, and a commitment to Tuskegee’s continued growth and development. His long tenure at the University has reflected Booker T. Washington’s legacy of creative resourcefulness and robust leadership; and Student Government Association President Erick Harris was clear in his comment that, “having a University President that cares about the students is critical. Dr. Payton cares about what is going on in the lives of all his students. Being a leader is something that's not a job for him, it is a way of life. He is constantly working to advance Tuskegee University in some form or fashion.”