January 02, 2014
The board of the closed Saint Paul’s College has named a new president in hopes of reopening the school.
Millard D. “Pete” Stith Jr. will continue negotiations with potential partners for either a merger or a sale of the 183-acre campus in Lawrenceville.
The historically black college closed in June. It had struggled to keep its accreditation due to financial issues and declining enrollment.
Stith told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the board wants to continue the college’s mission. Board members would prefer a merger or acquisition with another historically black school but they are open to discussions with other private and public institutions.
There are no discussions at this time to sell the property for business development, he said.
Smith had served as vice president for institutional advancement since October 2012. The board initially appointed him as executive administrator to oversee the campus’ shutdown. The board then changed his title after it was advised that having a president would provide “a little more muscle” during negotiations, he said.
“The role of the president of a college is pretty clear,” Stith said. “The role of executive administrator may have a little fuzz around it.”
Some administrative functions are continuing.
About 160 students attended Saint Paul’s when it closed. As executive administrator, Stith facilitated “teach out” agreements with other schools that enabled Saint Paul’s students to transfer.
About 90 percent of those who transferred are now attending Norfolk State, Virginia State or Virginia Union universities, he said.
Saint Paul’s had entered a joint-management agreement in January with Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C. Saint Augustine's backed away from a possible acquisition, saying it would have challenged its own financial stability.
Since then, Saint Paul’s debt loan has decreased and donations are still being sought, Stith said.
Saint Paul’s was founded in 1888 and was affiliated with the Episcopal Church.
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com