ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The long-time president of Harris-Stowe State University – Dr. Henry Givens Jr. — announced Monday morning that he’ll step down after next month’s graduation ceremonies.
Dr. Givens seemed surprised to find himself in front of an auditorium full of students, colleagues, loved ones and other well-wishers as he unveiled his plans.
“This was supposed to be a secret today,” he noted, as the audience laughed.
Dr. Givens quickly recovered and addressed the crowd.
“Five years! Five years…that’s how long I was supposed to serve as president of Harris-Stowe,” he pointed out, “after being appointed by the distinguished Board of Regents in 1979.”
During his 32-year tenure as president, Harris-Stowe has grown from a single building serving 800 students to a thriving campus that enrolled nearly 2,000 students last year.
He oversaw the most successful fund-raising campaign in the university’s history, which raised $45 million — surpassing the goal by $15 million.
Dr. Givens says his constant goal was expanding the campus and improving the student experience at Harris-Stowe.
“We seized the opportunity for mission enhancement and campus expansion,” he said. “We never looked back.”
Dr. Givens reserved a lengthy segment of his speech for his wife Belma.
“You have truly been my greatest inspiration,” he told Belma, who was in the audience. “You are the perfect wife, mother and grandmother.”
The search for a replacement as Harris-Stowe president begins Wednesday.
The school will consider applications submitted both locally and nationally, and will release the set of requirements needed to fill the post on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Dr. Givens says he’ll officially step down after delivering a speech to Harris-Stowe’s 2011 graduates on May 10th.
“I will speak to them about their responsibility as alumni of our great and historic institution,” he said.
“It is important for these future leaders to know that their commitment to society in general will reflect heavily on the image of Harris-Stowe State University.”
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