Embattled Coppin State University President Reginald S. Avery will step down in January, nearly a year after faculty gave him a vote of no confidence for lacking vision and before his initiatives to improve the state's lowest graduation rates have shown any progress.
Avery, 66, who announced the move Wednesday, said that the vote did not factor into his decision, but that he felt the time was right to "step aside" after five years leading the West Baltimore institution. He acknowledged that a turnaround hadn't occurred, but said he plans to return to the classroom where he would continue seeking to improve student engagement on the campus and in the community.
"It will take a while to get the full measure of the impact of these programs, but so far we're very excited," Avery said of his initiatives.
Avery's departure leaves Coppin State without a leader as it seeks to reverse declining student retention, improve a rocky financial condition and prepare more students for careers in health care and sciences. The historically black university serves about 2,700 students, most of whom come from city neighborhoods and require remedial education.