Ward is a Raleigh native and was born in St. Agnes Hospital on the school campus in 1958.
That fact pleased the crowd gathered to hear Board of Trustees Chair Rodney Gaddy announce Ward's selection.
"He's a son of St. Augustine's University and then he went on to earn his master's from NC State. Most recently, he's earned his PhD from North Carolina A&T University in leadership studies," said Gaddy.
Ward takes over the helm at St. Augustine's following the departure of former president Dianne Boardley Suber earlier this month.
Suber announced her retirement from her position at the historically black school, but said she would stay on for another two months. But the board of trustees announced she would leave right away. Suber had been president for 14 years.
St. Aug's has had a number of problems recently.
The school is under federal investigation after allegations of false information submitted in a grant proposal.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is reviewing the school because of its financial condition. Full-time equivalent enrollment fell from 1,387 in fall 2012 to 1,267 last fall, when an audit showed a $3 million drop in tuition revenue.
Ward pledged to get the school back on track.
"We can and we will insure that St. Augustine's remains a premier destination for a quality education," said Ward.
He also promised transparency.
"We will work with all of our federal agencies to resolve any issues that are before us, and know that our office will have an open door policy to help determine the findings of those issues," he said.