Howard University President Sidney Ribeau announced Oct. 1 he will retire from his post in December after five years on the job.

He is stepping down abruptly, after a three-day meeting of the board of trustees that included intense discussions, campus insiders said, about management and finances at one of the dominant institutions among historically Black colleges and universities.

In a letter sent to students, faculty, administrators and supporters Ribeau, a communications scholar, said that the time had come for him to move on, noting construction of a new academic building and several residence halls.

“Serving as the president of Howard University was the opportunity of a lifetime. In nearly 150 years, only 16 people have had this privilege. It is one I will always treasure. Again, I would like to thank the entire community for supporting me, for extending a collegial spirit and for helping us to expand and renew the Capstone.”

Ribeau came to Howard from Bowling Green State University in 2008 following the resignation of H. Patrick Swygert who had been the Howard president since 1995. Ribeau had served as the Bowling Green State University president for 13 years. Once at Howard he emphasized fields such as science, technology, engineering and math over majors such as fashion merchandizing. 

The university’s Board of Trustees has appointed Wayne A.I. Frederick, 42, Howard’s interim president. Frederick had previously been Howard’s provost since June 2012.

Ribeau is a Detroit, Mich. native and holds masters and doctoral degrees in interpersonal communication from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign.

During his presidency student enrollment declined, but rose this year as reflected by the registration of the second largest freshman class in Howard history. The school also experienced a drop in federal funding as a result of sequestration, and a slide in the U.S. News’ annual ranking of the nation’s colleges.