Tuskegee University president Benjamin F. Payton has decided to extend his stay by at least a month while the University searches for his successor.
Payton said the June 30 deadline marking his retirement from the presidency isn’t as set in stone as once believed. “I put a date on the wall,” Payton said. “I told them June 30, but then I considered staying until July 31.”
Though his bags are mostly packed – moving trucks have been seen at Grey Columns – Payton is likely to remain at TU in either an interim or advisory role after the June 30 deadline. Rumors suggest the candidate chosen to replace Payton in the presidency is not yet available to assume the role, though these are unconfirmed at this time.
In fact, the announcement Payton could remain is the only information about the search straight from the horse’s mouth. The TU Presidential Search Committee, headed by board chair Andrew Brimmer, announced at the onset of the search nothing would be released until the end. They weren’t kidding.
Payton did say he and his wife, Thelma Payton, will leave Tuskegee for houses in New Jersey and Florida.
“We’re going to run away from the hurricanes to New Jersey and away from the snow to Florida,” Payton said.
In its 128 years of existence, TU has had only five presidents – Payton, being the fifth, is serving in his 28th year. He announced his intention to retire in March 2009.
“I’m sure whatever decision is made, it will make for a smooth transition,” Payton said. “Things are going to be fine, it’s just going to take a little bit of getting used to.”