Saint Augustine's University alumni stunned by allegations of plans to force merger with Shaw

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, June 20, 2024
SAU alumni stunned by allegations of merger plans
"We are Raleigh history. To merge both universities, we'd lose that," one alumna said.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Alumni of both Saint Augustine's University and Shaw University believe the legacies of their HBCUs are at stake following the letter released by SAU Board Chairman Brian Boulware.

Class of 2001 alumna Demetria Buie was home in Charlotte when she got word that a letter was circulating with shocking allegations about a dinner meeting with influential Raleigh business leaders reportedly trying to get Saint Augustine's and Shaw to merge.

"We are Raleigh history. To merge both universities, we'd lose that," Buie said. "Everyone knows that Saint Augustine's and Shaw University are land rich. To have that discussion regarding land, is not farfetched."

The meeting reportedly included Boulware as well as Saint Augustine's Unviersity Interim President Marcus Burgess, Shaw University leaders, local businessmen and, according to WRAL, Capitol Broadcasting Company CEO Jim Goodmon. Capitol Broadcasting Company is the parent company of WRAL.

Boulware stated he rejected the merger proposal, but the idea of this meeting isn't sitting well with Buie and other alum like Marlon Lee.

"These are people who really personally, I think, don't have our best interest," Lee said.

Shaw University markets itself as the oldest HBCU in the south. It was founded in 1865 along South Street, which is now downtown Raleigh. The HBCU sits on premier real estate within steps of the Martin Marietta Center for Performing Arts and blocks away from the Red Hat Amphitheatre.

SEE ALSO | Development prospects around Shaw, Saint Augustine's draw mixed reactions

To preserve history or push ahead into the future? That's the question facing two HBCUs in Raleigh.

At the helm of the university's leadership is its 18th president, Dr. Paulette Dillard, who also is board chair of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

"I just hope ShawU does fact checking and questions their president and board. Same way we're doing over here," Lee said.

Boulware alleged that at the meeting Goodmon said, "Raleigh doesn't need two Black universities. We need the two to merge. Don't care what you call it. However, we need them both on SAU's property, because we need downtown land to expand the development footprint."

"There's a lot of history there. For someone to say to merge the two and close campus is very disrespectful," said Lee.

Just as ABC11 was wrapping up a conversation with Lee on Thursday, Interim President Burgess drove by with his window rolled down.

Akilah Davis: "Do you have a comment at all?"

Burgess: "No ma'am. Thank you though."

WRAL has also not responded to a request for comment. ABC11 has also reached out to the downtown Raleigh Alliance, Shaw University and Boulware.