Vernon Jordan to Lead Search Committee for Howard University’s New President

The veteran Washington lawyer will be in charge of the group that is tasked with replacing Sidney Ribeau, who retired abruptly late last year. 

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Vernon Jordan

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Vernon Jordan Jr., a well-known lawyer in Washington, D.C., is charged with leading the committee tasked with finding Howard University’s next president, the Washington Post reports.

The renowned historically black university has faced a series of troubles over the last year, topped off by then-president’s Sidney Ribeau’s abrupt retirement, after heated debates over the state of the school.

According to the Post, vice chair of the board Renee Higginbotham-Brooks warned trustees that the school was in "genuine trouble" due to a series of fiscal and management issues, marked by a downgrade in the university’s credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service. Ribeau tried to wave off those rumors but on top of the Moody’s downgrade, the university’s ranking also began to plummet on an annual U.S. News and World Report list of top national universities.

Jordan, however, is not deterred by the challenges the school faces or the challenge of finding a new president.

"Penn State had to find a president in a situation that far exceeds our situation," Jordan said, referencing the child sex-abuse scandal that rocked the school and the nation. "And they did."

"We are not in a hurry," he added. "But we know that it is urgent."

And what will Jordan and his 16-member committee be looking for in the new president?

"You need leadership. You need academic qualifications. You need academic experience. You need management experience," he said.

The current interim president is Wayne Frederick, who was the provost prior to Ribeau’s retirement.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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