Shaw University’s First Female President Quits Just Days After Tornado-damaged School Reopens to Students - Higher Education
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Shaw University’s First Female President Quits Just Days After Tornado-damaged School Reopens to Students

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by Diverse Staff

Just two days after Shaw University, the South’s oldest historically Black college in Raleigh, N.C., reopened to students, its president Irma McClaurin resigned from her post, The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. reported Tuesday. 

McClaurin, 58, said that her departure was “a mutual decision” between her and the university, according to The News & Observer. Shaw’s board of trustees did not release a statement.

McClaurin was hired Sept. 6 as Shaw’s 15th president and the school’s first female leader.

On April 16, a tornado touched down on campus and more than 27 buildings were hit. It forced an early ending to the school’s academic year.

The tornado damage totaling between $3 million and $4 million was particularly difficult for Shaw, which was more than $20 million in debt in 2009. The university grabbed a lifeline last year when then-U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge secured a $31 million federal loan for the school.

But the school mounted a rapid recovery. Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 17.

Incoming students are going through orientation to the downtown Raleigh campus, which suffered damage to 27 buildings, including dormitories and the student center, The News & Observer reported Monday.

Even the school’s oldest surviving building is a week away from getting a new copper roof. The major remaining adjustment to campus life will be that students will spend about six months in a $560,000 temporary cafeteria built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I expected to see leftover ruin,” student orientation leader Kevin Collins-Nelson said in front of the science building on Sunday as he directed freshmen to their dorms. Instead, the men’s dorm boasts new tile, paint, lights and furniture.

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“A lot of us looked at it as a Godsend, a needed excuse to replace the old,” said Collins-Nelson, a sophomore. “I think that tornado may have put us on the map.”

Freshman Abraham Ehrmwenman of Chicago said he didn’t know whether he’d have a dorm to live in.

“It looks good; you can’t hardly tell anything was damaged,” he said as he sat outside his renovated residence hall. Shaw’s freshman enrollment is expected to be 650 students, more than the school’s average but fewer than the 700 admitted last year.

On Sunday, McClaurin said Shaw’s financial burden had prompted her to seek new investors. McClaurin said she planned to take her “Imagining More” campaign – an effort to improve upon prior blueprints – to private investors and alumni across the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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