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Bennett College Announces Immediate Departure Of Its President

Gwendolyn Glenn

A tumultuous year for Bennett College, in which it fought to raise enough money to keep its accreditation, ends with the departure of its president, Phyllis Worthy Dawkins.

In a statement released by the historically black women's college, Bennett's board of trustees announced that today was Dawkin's last day with the school.

“We thank Dr. Dawkins for her time and contribution to Bennett College, especially her leadership during challenging times and her dedication to the Bennett Community,” Dr. Gladys Robinson, chairwoman of the Bennett College Board of Trustees and North Carolina state senator was quoted on the college's website as saying. “We look forward to securing new leadership that will take the College to the next level.”

The statement said that the college would immediately start searching for Dawkin's successor and that a replacement is expected to be in place by the start of the upcoming academic year.

In the interim, Gwendolyn O’Neal, a Bennett alumna and educator, will lead the college. According to the college, O'Neal previously led the International Textiles and Apparel Association Commission on Accreditation and the Department of Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In addition, she has served as an associate professor at Bennett.

In December 2018, Bennett announced that it needed to raise $5 million to restore its accreditation, which had been revoked by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. SACS officials questioned whether the school was financially sound. In February of this year, Bennett announced that is had exceeded its goal by more than $3 million. 

“You guys may have seen us carrying jugs on the streets collecting money during the MLK celebration and parade. We had no shame,” Dawkins said at the conclusion of the fundraising campaign.

According to Bennett, it is still accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and it is seeking accreditation by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.