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Savannah State University president to retire in June

Savannah State University President Cheryl Dozier, who has been grappling with recent enrollment and budget declines, is retiring at the end of June, officials announced Friday.

Dozier has been president of the university since 2011, after working the prior 17 years as an administrator at the University of Georgia.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley named Kimberly Ballard-Washington, currently associate vice chancellor of legal affairs at the system, as interim president effective July 1. Ballard-Washington previously served as interim president at Fort Valley State University and Albany State University. A national search to replace Dozier will begin at a later date, officials said.

University System officials said Dozier’s accomplishments include creating degree programs, such as an online bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in mathematics.

“I’m grateful for Cheryl’s leadership at this important and historic institution and happy for her as she embarks on her next chapter in life,” Wrigley said in a statement.

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Dozier, though, has been criticized by some alumni, students and faculty for her handling of campus crime, sexual harassment complaints against its former police chief and financial management, with some going as far as writing Wrigley earlier this year to demand her contract not be renewed.

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The university announced budget cuts and restructuring plans last fall to deal with enrollment and revenue declines. Its enrollment has dropped in the last two years from 4,955 students to 4,077 students, according to state data. Its total budget declined from nearly $121 million from the fiscal year that ended June 30 to about $107 million this fiscal year, according to state data.

Savannah State has recruited a large percentage of students from metro Atlanta in recent years. Savannah State is one of three historically black colleges and universities in the University System and, despite its recent enrollment decline, it has more students than any HBCU in the state.

Savannah State is one of three University System campuses in search of new presidents. The others are Georgia Southern University and Georgia Gwinnett College.

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