After a two-year tenure as Shaw University’s president, Tashni-Ann Dubroy has resigned to take a top administrative position at Howard University.
She will become executive vice president and chief operating officer at Howard, starting Oct. 2. She said in an interview that the process for naming a new leader at Shaw has not been determined. The Shaw presidency has turned over six times since 2002.
Dubroy, an entrepreneur and chemist, was only 34 when she was named president of her alma mater in 2015. She rekindled fundraising at the historically black university in downtown Raleigh and ushered in the first enrollment increase at Shaw in six years.
“We sincerely thank Dr. Dubroy for a remarkable tenure of service to Shaw University,” Joe Bell, Shaw board chairman, said in a statement Wednesday. “We are proud of her energetic, inclusive and refreshing leadership and the manner in which she led our institution to surpass goals in student enrollment, fundraising and cost control. We wish her all the best in the next phase of her professional journey.”
Though Dubroy will go from a presidency to a second-in-command position, she will assume a high-profile role at one of the nation’s most lauded historically black campuses. Howard is a private university in Washington with 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, a law school and a medical school. It was founded in 1867 and is two years younger than Shaw, the oldest historically black college in the South.
“Dr. Dubroy brings valuable experiences to this position, a proven track record of success, and I’m ecstatic that she is joining my leadership team,” said Howard President Wayne Frederick in an announcement on the university’s website.
Dubroy was seen as catalyst for a turnaround of Shaw’s finances, which had suffered because of a steady enrollment decline in recent years. She raised $630,000 at the school’s 150th anniversary in 2015. She hired a new leadership team and changed scholarship allocations, a controversial move that prompted protests early in her tenure.
Some alumni never warmed to her. On Wednesday, upon news of her departure, a group that calls itself “Friends of Shaw U,” tweeted, “DUBROY QUITS! Hope the grass is greener for you! #ByeTashni”
Members of the group are not identified on its website. Two years ago, several alumni filed suit against trustees Bell and past chairman Willie Gary, alleging breach of contract, conflict of interest and mismanagement. Bell and Gary have declined to speak about the lawsuit, which was dismissed by a federal judge last year.
Dubroy was a new kind of president at Shaw, a millennial with a business background but little higher education experience.
A native of Jamaica, she attended a community college in New York before enrolling at Shaw, where she majored in chemistry. She went on to earn a doctorate at N.C. State University and to work as a scientist at BASF, a large chemical company. Dubroy moved to the business side of BASF and, as a part-time student, earned a master’s in business administration at Rutgers University.
Then she went into cosmetic chemistry, leaving BASF to start a hair-care company, Tea and Honey Blends, and a salon. She returned to North Carolina and eventually sold her share of the companies. In 2011, she came back to her alma mater to be a chemistry professor and later a department chair.
As president, Dubroy worked to form industry partnerships with technology companies and to boost Shaw’s presence in its booming hometown. Recently, Shaw opened an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in partnership with the Carolina Small Business Development Fund. She was named 2017 CEO of the Year by the Triangle Business Journal.
Dubroy was traveling in Jamaica on Wednesday. In a phone interview, she said leaving Shaw was difficult but that she had already achieved some of the goals the board set out for her when she arrived. She said she was proud of the accomplishments of students, faculty and staff.
The university closed a $4 million budget gap through fundraising, Dubroy said, and she also cut $2 million from the budget. “We had to right size the institution,” she said, describing the elimination of a layer of administration at the academic department level. Meanwhile, employee salaries were restored last year after reductions in recent years.
Enrollment has risen from 1,650 to 1,856, Dubroy said, and is on track to increase this fall, with 750 new incoming students.
“I am honored that Shaw University’s Board of Trustees entrusted me with the opportunity to lead my Alma Mater,” she said in a news release. “I will always be grateful to Shaw University where I honed my leadership capabilities and expertise in my capacity as its 17th President.”