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Chicago State University Names New President

12088508_10156250395225354_8488051404236325464_n_zpsykldfvy1.jpgCHICAGO, IL - Chicago State University named a new president on Thursday (10/8/15) in the hope of reversing its declining enrollment and improving its financial situation, according to source.

Thomas Calhoun, vice president of enrollment management at the University of North Alabama (pictured on the right with Kwesi Harris of the AAMRC), was selected by the board of trustees from three finalists.

"It's obviously an honor and a privilege," Calhoun said. "I don't take it lightly, I look forward to serving this university community to the best of my ability. I think we have wonderful opportunities here so it's just a real privilege at this stage in my career to have this new challenge and opportunity."

The board of trustees met Thursday morning before making the announcement. Nikki Zollar, chairwoman of the presidential search committee, expressed her sadness over President Wayne Watson's retirement and her excitement about Calhoun's selection.

"I think he's going to be fantastic," Zollar said. "I think that he will work well with every group that is important to the university."

Calhoun holds multiple degrees in philosophy, science and education. He is also an ordained itinerant elder in the African methodist Episcopal Church.  His contract begins Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31 2020. He will be paid a base salary of $300,000 and will have full use of the president's mansion and a car.

"His qualifications are impeccable, his experience has great depth to it and equally as important, his vision, his vision as and educator, is something that is going to take Chicago State University to the next level," Watson said. "I'm very pleased."

The search for a new president began in May after Watson, who has led the school since 2009, announced he would retire. During his time as president, the university had its accreditation renewed and established better relations with the community. However, his tenure was marred by declining enrollment and lawsuits.

Chicago State University was founded in 1867 as Cook County Normal School, through the initiative of John F. Eberhart. He convinced the County Commissioners of the need of a permanent school to educate teachers. In 1980, the institution received its first African-American leader, President Benjamin Alexander. Under his leadership, the African-American portion of the student body went from 60% in 1970 to over 80% by 1980. This led to the debate over where CSU should be considered an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) or whether it should retain its multicultural and multiracial status. Chicago State is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


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