After five years of serving as president of Coppin State University, Dr. Reginald S. Avery has announced his resignation, effective Jan. 22, 2013.

In a statement issued Oct. 24 by the historical Black institution, founded in 1900, President Avery called his time the “highlight” of 35 years in higher education.

“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead an institution that is so vitally important to the community and the students that we serve,” said Avery. “There comes a time when leaders must step aside to allow for continued institutional growth, and for me that time has come.”

Like the other three historical Black institutions (HBI) in the state, Coppin is a member of the University System of Maryland, which is led by Chancellor William E. Kirwan.

“I am very appreciative of the hard work that President Avery has put forth in his advancing Coppin State University. He brought a focus to the welfare of the student body, retention and the graduation rate,” Kirwan told the AFRO, adding that the foundation laid by Avery gives the university what it needs to move forward.

“President Avery has served five years, which is not a normal period of time. He had a very challenging job and I think he feels that he has made a contribution, done what he could do, and now it’s time to pass the reins on to someone else.”
Kirwan said today’s average tenure for a college or university president is 11 years.

Though shy of that mark, Avery’s term has not been without its’ positive lunges forward- or its’ periods of controversy.

In February, Avery’s faculty gave him a vote of no confidence citing six major concerns including the revolving doors of leadership in the Office of the Provost, unfair hiring practices, and $800,000 in 2011 need-based scholarships that never made it to student accounts.

In July, the Coppin community joined with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME) bargaining unit at Coppin State to protest the waves of staff layoffs they said came with little to no warning.

Avery’s administration has overseen the establishment of a new School of Business, expansions to the allied health curriculum, and upgrades to the physical campus located on North Avenue.

Kirwan said that an interim president will be announced shortly.

Avery is only the fifth president to hold the position of president at the university that has been a staple in the West Baltimore community for 112 years.

The school serves roughly 4,000 students every year in 53 undergraduate and nine post-graduate programs with a liberal arts focus.

The school is named after Fanny Jackson Coppin, who in 1865 became an Oberlin College graduate.

As one of the first African-American women to earn a degree, Coppin went on to become a teacher and a principal at the Institute of Colored Youth in Philadelphia.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer