Beloved Dillard University President Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough has brought a spotlight to the university through being a gem in his own right, but his time there is coming to an end. Get the full story on his planned departure and why he will be missed so much from Jessica Williams at local New Orleans page Nola.com below.
Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough, who is credited with growing the university’s endowment and expanding its programming, will step down in May 2022 after a decade on the job.
Kimbrough, an Atlanta native, said Monday he is leaving Dillard’s Gentilly campus to pursue new opportunities. He said the average tenure of a university leader is almost seven years, a timeline he has exceeded.
The search for Kimbrough’s successor — the eighth leader of the historically black university — will begin immediately, university officials said.
“Dillard University and New Orleans have been awesome for our family, and we are thankful for the love and support,” Kimbrough wrote in a message to the university community. “But it is time for a new challenge where my gifts and graces match the needs of an institution at this point in their history, and Dillard is ready for someone new to do likewise.”
The self-proclaimed “Hip Hop Prez” has done much to strengthen Dillard during his tenure.
His accomplishments include convincing the federal government to forgive a $160 million loan made out to Dillard in 2007 to help repair millions of dollars in water and wind damage to the campus from Hurricane Katrina.
That forgiveness paved the way for Dillard to grow its endowment to more than $100 million, a 115% increase that is among the nation’s highest for historically Black colleges and universities, officials said.
Alumni contributions have also risen under Kimbrough’s leadership, going from 4% of Dillard’s annual revenue to 23% this year. That again places the university in the top tier for alumni gifts of all campuses nationwide.
Since Kimbrough came aboard, Dillard has introduced physics and film studies programs, and has restructured its nursing school as the College of Nursing. The university has also seen its graduation and retention rates rise since 2012.
“Walter is an innovative leader who has made an indelible impact on Dillard University,” board chairman and alumnus Michael Jones said. “His commitment to our mission has resulted in significant growth financially, academically, and in the community.”
Kimbrough’s use of social media to teach and interact with students sets him apart from other college presidents, observers have noted. So does his age — at 54, he is one of the youngest college presidents in the country.
Kimbrough earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, a master’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and his doctorate from Georgia State University.
Before arriving at Dillard in 2012, he served a nearly eight-year tenure as president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has also worked in student affairs departments at various colleges over his academic career.
That career is not over yet, he hinted in a letter about his departure.
“In this season of increased presidential departures, particularly due to retirements, there are a number of exciting possibilities at a diversity of institutions for which my talents may match,” he said.