The Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia has voted not to renew the contract of Savannah State University President Earl G. Yarbrough yesterday. The Regents did not give a reason for its decision and held deliberations behind closed doors.
Yarbrough is a finalist to lead Southern University Baton Rouge.
The 64-year-old Yarbrough received the highest ranking among candidates for the Southern University post and is expected to be interviewed later this week, along with five other candidates.
One person familiar with the Georgia regents’ discussion said the decision was due to a desire to make a change rather than any specific complaints or mismanagement by Yarbrough.
Some Savannah State alumni have written letters and memos to the regents calling for Yarbrough’s ouster. They complained about academic quality and the number of freshmen needing remedial courses, the limited number of academic majors offered, the campus crime rate, and poor management of the athletic department.
“Unfortunately, under the Yarbrough administration, Savannah State has seen a lack of leadership that has been harmful to the university,” wrote “Concerned Alumni” which included Danny Parrish, Willie Walker, Alfred Berry Jr., and Lamar Rhodes.
In a separate interview, Rhodes, a 2000 grad who practices law in Atlanta, conceded that Yarbrough is likable.
“He’s a nice person. I just think as president, he’s not up to the job,” Rhodes said last month after an alumni meeting in Atlanta that Yarbrough attended.
Yarbrough became Savannah State’s 12th president in 2007. He said his first mission was to restore pride in the school while raising its visibility among potential students.
Yarbrough is crediting with cleaning up the school's finances, increasing enrollment to an all-time high, starting a campaign to begin construction for new classrooms, dorms and sports facilities and joining an athletic conference.
Georgia Chancellor Erroll Davis will name an interim president and a search committee within days.