VUU President takes sabbatical as students petition for removal

Published: May. 9, 2016 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: May. 9, 2016 at 4:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Union President Dr. Claude Perkins will go on a sabbatical that will extend until the end of his contract, the university announced on Monday.

The Board of Trustees approved the request on Friday for a one-year sabbatical beginning July 1. Dr. Perkins' contract ends July 2017, the university said.

While the university hailed Perkins for his work in improving facilities and programs at the university, hundreds have signed a petition decrying conditions at the school and claiming the president has mismanaged funds and instituted "irrational" new policies.

"Dr. Perkins' work at Virginia Union has been truly transformative," said Board Chairman Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson.  "We welcome this period to establish transition for the University while we have the benefit of Dr. Perkins' experience and input."

The university highlighted more than $30 million in campus improvements made during Dr. Perkins' tenure as president, including construction of the first new residential facility on the campus in the last 45 years.

However, the petition by students on claimed mistreatment, poor housing conditions and terrible food.

The students of Virginia Union University deserve a better leader. We are tired of this family being treated with disrespect to our money and to our education. Virginia Union University needs someone who actually care about the students and treats us like adults. We at Union are living under terrible conditions from mold to no hot water for weeks at a time, lack of necessities, and most importantly FOOD. Not to mention the misappropriation of funds and upcoming new policies irrational for independent working students.

The petition was created two weeks ago and quickly picked up 250 supporters. Since then, less than 100 additional signatures have been added.

The university credits Dr. Perkins with adding a graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction, a new Fine Arts program, the Center for the Study of the Urban Child, the Center for International Studies, and the Center for Small Business Development.

Perkins is the 12th president of the university, having been appointed as Chief Executive Officer in January of 2009. The school says it has provided more than $25 million in scholarships during Dr. Perkins' tenure and cited a rise in enrollment with last fall's being the highest in the University's history.

The university is taking steps to cover operation while during Dr. Perkins' sabbatical, according to Dr. Richardson.

Dr. Perkins came to VUU from Albany State University in Georgia where he served as Professor of Educational Leadership, Graduate Dean and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. He previously served at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and as Superintendent in Clark County, Nevada and Kansas City, Missouri. ?

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