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President of Charles Drew University resigns

May 8, 2009 |  7:41 am

The president of Charles Drew University in South Los Angeles has resigned her post after three years, according to university officials.

Susan Kelly went on an extended leave of absence in April and announced her resignation May 1. Her last day was Monday. She will be replaced by a trio of executives while officials search for a permanent replacement.

"It is not uncommon for organizations that have undergone sustained and major change over some time to need a different type of leader going forward," Kelly wrote in her letter of resignation. "It has been my honor to lead Charles Drew University through, arguably, its most challenging times," she wrote.

Charles Drew is a private, nonprofit medical and health sciences university with predominantly black and Latino students located in the Watts-Willowbrook area. Kelly, who is a native Australian, was the first female and non-African American president of the university when she arrived in May 2006.

Kelly led the university through the closure of inpatient units and the emergency room at the troubled Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, and has had to navigate through a recession that resulted in fewer donations and steep losses on university investments.

Earlier this year Kelly announced that the university would have to lay off 10% of its faculty and staff, suspend contributions to all employees' retirement funds and slash executive salaries.

In February, she was given a vote of no confidence by the school's Academic Senate. A week later, the same group opted to rescind that vote, but a university official said that procedural questions were raised over that vote.

Bart Williams, chair of the university's Board of Trustees, said officials later agreed to have one student and one faculty member sit on the board as non-voting members.

Williams said he thought Kelly's highest achievement during her tenure was establishing a new nursing school and finding funding for the construction of a building to house the program.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

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