The Chapel, one of the more iconic buildings at Alcorn State University in Lorman. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis, AP

Felecia Nave is out as president of Alcorn State University, according to a press release from the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees. 

The board approved the change during executive session at its regular meeting Thursday. Ontario Wooden, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim president at the state’s oldest historically Black university, effective immediately. 

It was not clear why the board bid Nave goodbye; an IHL spokesperson did not immediately return an inquiry from Mississippi Today. IHL’s press release does not say if she resigned or if the board terminated her contract, which was set to end on June 30, 2023. Tom Duff, the board president, is quoted saying “the Board wishes Dr. Nave well as she pursues new opportunities.”

Nave’s departure makes her the fourth university president to step down or leave since June 2022. In each instance, IHL has provided little information about the circumstances surrounding those decisions — details on why presidents leave usually comes from the individuals themselves.

The first Black woman to lead Alcorn State, Nave was named president in 2019 in a unanimous decision. 

The campus was initially excited about her presidency, but some turned sour in 2021 leading to dozens of students protesting her leadership in the fall. A group of alumni called Alcornites for Change later produced a report alleging the campus faced widespread issues like declining enrollment, dozens of resignations and abysmal facilities. 

Nave did not attend IHL’s Thursday board meeting with the other university presidents — Wooden appeared in her stead.

“I want to thank you — the board, Commissioner Rankins — for your continued support of Alcorn State University,” he said. “I bring you greetings on behalf of Dr. Nave.” 

Wooden came to Alcorn State in 2020. Prior to that, he spent 12 years in administration at North Carolina Central University. 

Molly Minta covers higher education for Mississippi Today, in partnership with Open Campus.

Higher education reporter at Mississippi Today in partnership with Open Campus.