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Legendary Alabama A&M University president prepares to move on after record growth

Alabama A&M University President Andrew Hugine, Jr. recently announced plans to retire, ending more than a decade of leadership at the historically black college and university in Huntsville. Hugine, the 11th president in the 145-year history of the university, said his retirement will take effect at the end of 2021.

Hugine leaves a university which was widely considered to be struggling at the time of his arrival, including experiencing financial difficulties and having facilities seriously in need to repair.

During Hugine’s tenure, the school has experienced unprecedented growth with an enrollment of over 6,000 students.

In addition, the school completed a $27.3 million capital campaign while Hugine served as president, opened a $40 million residence hall and broke ground on a $60 million events center.

On the academic front, the school received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and Alabama A&M’s business school received international accreditation.

“The university is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2009,” Jerome Williams, president pro tem of the board of trustees, said in a recent press release. “President Hugine has done a tremendous job in taking our beloved institution to the next level and the future of Alabama A&M remains bright.”

Despite these historic gains, people familiar with the search for the school’s new president have told Yellowhammer News that former employees and alumni have accused Hugine of orchestrating a closed-door search for his successor.

They assure, however, that the opposite is true, and that the school has put together a diverse composition to its presidential search committee and a robust application process.

The search is reportedly down to three qualified candidates. On-campus finalist interviews are set for October 2, and the school seems poised to select its 12th president soon.

Hugine, for his part, is refusing to endorse or recommend any person as his successor but has noted that the school is at a crucial juncture in its history and selecting the right person as president is paramount to the future of the university.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia