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Wiley president to retire

From Staff Reports
July 25, 2017 at 11:26 p.m.

Haywood Strickland

MARSHALL — Longtime Wiley College President Haywood L. Strickland has announced he will retire in June.

"I'm getting old," he said this week, chuckling. "It's just time. I've served longer than most presidents now."

Strickland had led the college for 18 years.

"I've accomplished what I wanted to, now it's time to enjoy retirement, enjoy my granddaughter. It's really more personal than anything else."

Strickland submitted his resignation to the college's board of trustees this past week.

He said the trustees formed a search committee, which is being advised by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Wiley's second-longest serving president, Strickland began in 2000.

Under his administration, the college had its accreditation re-affirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges through 2023 and received approval to offer three online degree programs. He also led the college to earn specialized accreditation of its business programs by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools Programs.

Strickland said he especially is looking forward to the school launching a statewide speech and debate league this year for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The university received a $83,000 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish the league.

Strickland was at the helm in 2007 when Wiley garnered international visibility with the release of the movie, "The Great Debaters," which told the story of Melvin B. Tolson, a Wiley College English professor and debate coach who led his 1935 team to defeat the University of Southern California, the then-reigning national debate champions.

Strickland has spearheaded more than 300 facilities improvement projects, including the construction of the $2.4 million Julius S. Scott Sr. Chapel and the $14 million 500-bed center that was named in his honor and opened its doors in fall 2012. Renovations to the Fred. T. Long Student Union were completed in the fall, and its doors re-opened during homecoming in November.

Strickland said he'd like to see enrollment grow to 2,000 during the next five years. In fall 2016, enrollment was 1,284.

Strickland is involved in a federal lawsuit involving the college filed by Roderick Strong, who was Wiley College principal financial analyst from 2011 to 2015.

Strong claims he was fired after offering proof to school administration of financial mismanagement by Strickland.

The lawsuit states Strickland and Wiley College violated the False Claims Act in regards to a $24.4 million federal Department of Education loan given to Wiley in 2011 as a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

No trial date has been set for the lawsuit.

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