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Shaw University's national alumni association calls for school's board of trustees to resign

The Raleigh News and Observer
May 28, 2010
Citing "gross neglect," Shaw University's national alumni group has called for the school's board of trustees to step down or be dismissed, an appeal addressed to multimillionaire lawyer, alumnus and board Chairman Willie Gary.

The May 14 letter from the alumni association's president, Emily Perry, cites no specific grievance, but says: "We can no longer stand by and allow Shaw to appear to deteriorate due to poor judgment. ... We have serious concerns regarding conflict of interest, fiduciary responsibilities, adverse interest and commitment."

Shaw, the South's oldest historically black college, has spent the last year trying to shovel its way out of debt exceeding $20 million. The May 14 letter is not the first rebuke. In March, the school's Florida alumni group sent a letter to Shaw administrators saying it was "amazed" that giving among board members totaled only $41,089 since July, despite Gary's pledge that each of the roughly 40 board members would chip in $50,000.

Reached in Florida on Thursday, Gary said he has no plans to step down or request anyone else's ouster. He acknowledged failing to keep up with his own $10 million pledge, made in 1991 at a promised rate of $250,000 a year - a gift that brought him nationwide praise.

Shaw audits conducted between 2002 and 2006 shows at least $7 million outstanding from a single board member's pledge, and they show the university contracted for insurance coverage with the relative of an unnamed board member.

"Whether I've given any money to Shaw in the last year or so? No, because of the economic times," Gary said. "We don't have it."
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