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Neufville named to head Coppin State

Mortimer H. Neufville, who has served as interim president of Coppin State University since former President Reginald S. Avery’s resignation in January, had the interim tag removed by the University System of Maryland on Tuesday.

Mortimer H. Neufville

Neufville will serve a two-year term as Coppin’s president, through June 30, 2015, a USM statement said.

“Mort Neufville is the ideal person to lead Coppin at this time in the institution’s development,” USM Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan said in a statement. “Throughout the difficult task of assessing the university’s strengths and challenges, Dr. Neufville has brought great wisdom, insight and civility to the process.”

Avery’s tenure included the creation of a business school and approval of a $68 million science and technology building at the West Baltimore university, but ended shortly after a vote of no-confidence by Coppin faculty, brought on by accusations of high faculty turnover and poor budget management.

Last December, the Board of Regents established a committee to review the university and determine ways to increase student retention and graduation rates and improve administrative operations and financial stability.

Neufville helped develop an implementation plan for the goals identified by the panel, which the board unanimously approved last month.

“Dr. Neufville’s steady leadership during a transitional time at Coppin State University has been of great value. The board believes he is in a unique position to oversee the Implementation Plan during these first two critical years,” James L. Shea, chairman of the Board of Regents, said in a statement. “In approving the plan, the board pledged to continue proactive oversight of Coppin, and the Regents look forward to working with Dr. Neufville.”

Neufville, who had been a consultant with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities when he was asked to become interim president at Coppin, also served as interim president of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore between August 2011 and June 2012.

“Coppin State University plays an important role in educating and transforming the lives of many people in this community,” Neufville said in a statement. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the campus community to continue achieving great outcomes for Coppin State.”

The historically black, publicly funded university has long struggled with its graduation rate, which is a state-low 15 percent. Avery, who became president in 2008, oversaw a modest gain during his tenure, but never increased the graduation rate back to previous, mid-20s percentages.