St. Augustine's graduates optimistic about university's future after tumultuous year

St. Augustine's University students celebrate at commencement.
May 5, 2014 3:42:44 PM PDT
Big congratulations to St. Augustine's University Class of 2014. Their graduation ceremony Sunday not only marked a new beginning for those students, it also comes at a time many hope will mark a new beginning for the school.

It was a ceremony packed with the usual pomp and circumstance and excited graduates.

"It feels great to be graduating. I love this. I'm with my boys, my team, my Class of 2014, it feels great," said Johnathon Haley.

The upbeat attitudes and smiling faces were a welcome change on campus for many following what has been a tumultuous year for St. Augustine's.

"Right now we're just focusing on the future and the future is now, we're walking now, so whatever happened then, that was then," said graduate Sheena Rambert.

Just last month former President Dianne Boardley Suber was let go for firing key administrative leaders, and a federal investigation is being launched concerning false information that was allegedly filed for a grant proposal.

Both issues along with declining enrollment and budget shortfalls have been cause for complaint for some students and alumni. However, this weekend, those worries were miles away for those ABC11 talked to.

"It's great, everything is ok, and now we're gonna graduate," said Shawn Sutton.

Some of the optimism is the result of the newly named interim president and St. Augustine's alum, Dr. Everett Ward.

"I feel comfortable with our interim president, I think he'll do a great job, he's a really good man. He spoke to us in the graduation practice, so I think he'll be great," said graduate Joshua Easton.

"I think he's gonna come in and do whatever he needs to do to make sure that St. Augustine's continues to be the strong university that it is," said graduate Tiana Royster.

Dr. Ward says right now fundraising and student enrollment are his top priorities. He even made a personal donation of $10,000 to the school.

The commencement address for Sunday's ceremony was given by author and entrepreneur, Dr. Darryl Scriven.


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