Kentucky State University names former HBCU administrator as interim president

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Kentucky State University has named Ronald A. Johnson, the former president of Clark Atlanta University, as its interim president.

The board of regents unanimously voted to approve Johnson for the role after spending several hours in a closed session at a special-called meeting on Monday. Johnson will hold the position during the upcoming school year while KSU continues the search for someone to fill the position on a long-term basis.

“Dr. Johnson has a distinguished record in higher education administration especially at HBCUs,” said board chair Gerald Patton. “We, the Board of Regents are elated at his appointment and look forward to working with him as he provides institutional leadership at Kentucky State University at this critical time.”

Johnson was the president of Clark Atlanta University, a private historically Black university in Atlanta, until 2018. While at Clark Atlanta University, Johnson helped found and chair the Development Committee of the HBCU Executive Leadership Institute, which helps prepare future leaders of historically Black institutions. He is also a former member of the President’s Advisory Board of the White House Initiative on HBCU, according to information provided by KSU.

He has a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Adelphi University, as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Members of the board of regents virtually interviewed four candidates for interim president, who were provided by The Registry, a company that places interim administrators within higher education institutions to serve for short-term appointments. All four candidates were former administrators at HBCUs.

At the board meeting on Monday, six regents said they supported Johnson for the role, while five initially supported James Anderson, the former chancellor of Fayetteville State University. During the final vote to select the interim president, there was unanimous support for Johnson for the role.

Earlier this year, under House Bill 250, KSU halted its search for the next president and was instructed to name an interim president to serve until next year. The bill also gave the university $23 million to address its budget shortfall, with measures in place to create a management improvement plan and financial accountability for KSU.

Another bill, Senate Bill 265, nearly completely replaced the members of KSU’s board of regents.

Clara Ross Stamps has been the acting president of KSU since last summer, when former president M. Christopher Brown II resigned amid concerns about the university’s finances and multiple lawsuits filed against the university.