HBCU president announces retirement from NC university

Clarence Armbrister, president of Johnson C. Smith University, is set to retire in June.

Clarence Armbrister, president of Johnson C. Smith University, will retire this summer from the historically Black university in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Armbrister, 66, announced in a message to students on Tuesday that his five-year tenure will come to an end in June, The Charlotte Observer reports. JCSU’s Board of Trustees will search for his replacement while Armbrister serves as senior adviser until early 2024 to help the new president. His contract expires at the end of the school year. 

Johnson C. Smith University / YouTube screenshot

“It is a bittersweet moment for me and my family because we love this university and the unparalleled opportunities HBCUs like ours provide for thousands of students across the country each year,” Armbrister wrote in his message.

Armbrister intends to spend time with his family, which includes his wife Denise, their five children and four grandchildren. He reportedly explained in his message that he will also pursue personal interests.

The Miami native became the 14th president of JCSU in January 2018. Armbrister established “unprecedented public-private partnerships” through the Charlotte mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, according to Steven Boyd, chair of the university’s board of trustees. The result was the university receiving $80 million, the single largest gift in the school’s history.

As The Charlotte Observer reports, the funds will go toward academic programs, teacher retention and internships.

In a message posted on the school’s website, Boyd thanked Armbrister for his “unwavering love” for JCSU.

Prior to his career in education, Armbrister worked as a lawyer in the public finance department of Saul, Ewing Remick & Saul in Philadelphia. Additionally, per The Charlotte Observer, he served as the Philadelphia city treasurer, the managing director of the Philadelphia School District, an investment banker, a senior vice president at Temple University, a senior vice president at Johns Hopkins University, and president and CEO of a Philadelphia boarding school.

In his message to students, Armbrister said serving the JCSU family was “a privilege and an honor.”

“I’d like to express my gratitude for your support as I begin my sixth year as president, and for the passion and talent each of you contributes to making JCSU such a special place,” Armbrister wrote.

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