Shaw University president resigns

Former Shaw University president, Dr. Irma McClaurin (Shaw University)

August 9, 2011 7:38:07 PM PDT
Shaw University president, Dr. Irma McClaurin, resigned from her position Tuesday. She had served as the university's 15th president for less than a year following a September 2010 appointment.

"I have great hopes and visions for Shaw, I know that it will continue on the track that it's on and I'm just privileged to have been a part of that," McClaurin said.

She offered parting words for Shaw and the students she oversaw for less than a year, adding her decision to step down was a mutual one between her and the university.

"I wish them well as they do wish me well," she said.

Shaw University released the following statement:

"Shaw University has seen many changes and experienced challenges in the last six months. And with change comes transitions. One of these is the mutually agreed upon decision by the Shaw Board and Dr. McClaurin for her to resign her position as Shaw President. This was a difficult decision by all parties, but we are in agreement that it is the best decision for all involved. Shaw University wishes Dr. McClaurin great success in her future, and is genuinely appreciative of the leadership and vision she brought to Shaw during her tenure. Dr. McClaurin wishes Shaw University only the best as it plots a course toward sustainability, growth, and progress."

Sources tell ABC11 Eyewitness News concerned alumni and corporate sponsors pressured the board of trustees to force McClaurin's resignation.

ABC11's calls to trustee board chair and alumnus Willie Gary's office were not returned.

Sources say relationships between McClaurin, staff and faculty quickly soured after she took control last September and fired several professors.

ABC11 obtained copies of complaints filed to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Association of University Professors. The complaints claim McClaurin and the university caused major operational dysfunctions with academics, dismissing four teachers in March.

Other grievances claim she and the school defamed the professors' professional character and took funds from or usurped their grants for research.

"I see this as an opportunity to get back to some work," McClaurin said.

Her hire was a year after Shaw refinanced $31M worth of debt, and her resignation comes just months after tornadoes damaged the campus causing more than $3M in damage.

The rebuilding process has been slow. Some blame a conflict of interest. The trustee board chair's brother, Freddie Gary with Gary Financial Group, holds the insurance policy.

ABC11 placed calls to Freddie Gary's office, but those calls also went unanswered.

McClaurin sys she will also consider herself a Shaw Bear.

"I have traveled around a lot people who used to ask me where is home and I say, home is here. Well, I carry Shaw here, and it will always be a part of me."

McClaurin says now she is going to spend time working on a book and catching up with friend and family.

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