5/22/17 - Atlanta - School president Ronald Johnson address the graduates. Clark Atlanta University's Panther Stadium was the site of their 28th annual Commencement. Businessman William Pickard gave the commencement address. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who received an honorary degree, also spoke. Panther Stadium, BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Clark Atlanta University president to resign in December

Clark Atlanta University President Ronald A. Johnson is resigning in December for personal reasons, he wrote in a letter Friday, after leading the university for more than three years.

“I make this decision for personal reasons and I advised our Board of Trustees of my intentions today,” Johnson wrote. “While I am reluctant to leave this great University and its incredible students, faculty and staff I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished during this period of institutional transformation.”

The resignation is effective Dec. 7.

The letter was sent to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by several sources Friday and a university official confirmed Johnson’s resignation plans. Officials said a news release will be sent later Friday with more details about the announcement.

Johnson’s letter cited his accomplishments as president, which included an increase in its six-year graduation rate from 38 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2018, a “record high” first-year student retention rate of 70 percent, increased alumni giving, new or improved athletic and residential facilities and an improved credit rating.

“As evidenced by these achievements and many others, we have placed our beloved CAU on an upward trajectory that has been acknowledged around the nation,” Johnson wrote.

Clark Atlanta, which had about 3,700 students last year, has the largest enrollment of any school in the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

The university has grappled in the last year with a few sexual harassment complaints. Clark Atlanta has also worked to find ways to lower average student loan debt for its students, which have been among the highest in the state, according to some recent studies.

Clark Atlanta is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. 

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