B-CU president abruptly quits

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Chrite leaves Florida HBCU for top job at Massachusetts business school.

Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite will take over the top leadership position at Bentley University, including having access to the institution’s $280 million endowment fund – more than 10 times the size of Bethune-Cookman University’s endowment.
COURTESY OF BENTLEY UNIVERSITY

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
FLORIDA COURIER

DAYTONA BEACH – In an unexpected twist, Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite is leaving the presidency of Bethune-Cookman University for another job.

On Wednesday, Bentley University, a prestigious business school located in Waltham, Mass., announced on its website that Chrite will become its next president.

“Brent Chrite shares our vision and passion for educating ethical leaders who make business a force for positive change,” said Paul Condrin, interim president and board chair of Bentley University.

“He has dedicated his career to improving business education and expanding economic opportunities across the nation and world. I know he will lead Bentley University to greater heights in years to come.”

Bentley University is ranked as one of the 100 best business schools in the United States to obtain an MBA in a ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek, and was named one of the “Best Colleges For Business Majors” by Money Magazine.

Chrite will officially take over at Bentley on June 1. He will lead a school with an endowment of $280 million and enrollment of more than 4,000. Chrite will also make history as Bentley’s first Black president.

Bentley University plays intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA Division II level.

‘Good health’

On Tuesday, B-CU’s Board of Trustees released a statement saying that Chrite informed his cabinet that he was resigning during a regular meeting but didn’t give any specifics.

The statement stated, “We’re not privy to this decision but we wish Dr. Chrite and his family good fortune, good health and happiness.”

Chrite will officially leave B-CU on May 30, the end of the academic year. He spent less than two years at the institution taking over on July 1, 2019.

Alumni ‘disappointed’

B-CU National Alumni Association President Johnny McCray, Jr. said he spoke with Chrite on Tuesday.

McCray told the Florida Courier, “I called him this morning and that is when he told me the news that he was resigning. I am very disappointed. I am supportive of Chrite. I am bothered by him leaving.”

B-CU’s Board of Trustees met with Chrite on Tuesday afternoon. They were also expected to hold a board meeting on Wednesday or Thursday to address moving forward.

“The Board of Trustees remains aligned and steadfast in its commitment to its fiduciary responsibilities of care, loyalty and obedience to the institution. The leadership team and Trustees, who for the past several years guided the University through turbulent times and restored B-CU to the positive path it is now on, remain intact and will continue the progress of the University.”

Pushed out?

McCray said he believes that Chrite was pushed out by the Board of Trustees including its leadership and Chairman Belvin Perry, Jr.

“I do think the board ran him out. I think the board is responsible for this. It’s a rift. The statement that they released said that Chrite, the board chair and board vice chair ‘not aligned,’” explained McCray.

B-CU had not responded for comment as of the Florida Courier’s deadline late Wednesday night.

McCray, a former B-CU board member, has been a longtime critic of university’s leadership. McCray plans to call an emergency meeting with the National Alumni Association to address the situation.

He believes Chrite should be remembered as the man who saved B-CU with the policies he implemented.

“Under his leadership, he did a tremendous job. I thought we’d be on (accreditation) probation a year longer. We were elated with some of the things that he accomplished,” McCray exclaimed.

Chrite’s achievements include the following:

  • Getting B-CU’s accreditation restored with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges (SAC-SCOC) in September 2020.
  • Restructuring a dorm deal that ballooned into a $300 million bill for the university.
  • Reducing the school’s debt from $25 million in 2018 to $8 million in March 2020.
  • Taking the school from junk bond status to a good bond rating.
  • Leading an effort for the state of Florida to allot $17 million in recurring funds to help B-CU financially.
  • Right-sizing enrollment from 4,000-plus to over 2,000.
  • Right-sizing a costly bloated academic and institutional leadership structure.

The latest economic impact studies put Bethune-Cookman’s economic impact on Daytona Beach and its surrounding community at between $136 million and $300 million.

B-CU is yet to announce its plans to find its next president. 

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