St. Augustine's president announces retirement, reflects on tenure

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- St. Augustine University's 11th president is retiring. Dr. Everett Ward announced that he is moving on after five years on the job.

On Friday, he sat down with ABC11 to reflect on his tenure at one of the state's oldest Historically Black Universities.

History is the hallmark of all HBCU's, but very few can say they witnessed the evolution of a black university from birth like Dr. Everett Ward.

"I was literally born on this campus. Born at St. Agnes hospital, built by students," said Ward.

Since then, Dr. Ward has continued to build a legacy. He started as a student, became a donor, and then transitioned to trustee where then-president Dr. James Boyer asked him this question.

"He said, 'Everett, if the college ever asked you to do something you would say yes?' I thought he was talking about a donation," said Ward.

It finally made sense in 2014 when the board asked Dr. Ward to take over as the University's 11th president.

"I could hear Dr. Boyer saying, 'When the college asks you to do something, say yes.' So now I live in his home that he and Ms. Boyer built and so my guardian angels are with me and have been for five years," said Ward.

A successful five years if you ask Dr. Ward. His proudest accomplishments include leading the campaign to restore the Jim Crow Era St. Agnes Hospital and saving the university from losing its accreditation.

"December of this past year when we received the news that St. Augustine's probationary status had been lifted that was extremely a moment u will never forget, because when I came to the university, that was the challenge," said Ward.

But with every challenge comes a reward. For Dr. Ward, that reward has been seeing students thrive. However, Ward admits there's still more work to be done.

"I think that president will continue to have to look at enrollment. We have an infrastructure issue," said Ward.

Ward plans to stick around to ensure a smooth transition but even then he said he's confident in the university's resilience.

"We got past first base, we still have second and third and then home, but I am encouraged by what I've witnessed here as president," said Ward.
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