Bowie State College, plagued by a decline in student enrollment and resulting teacher cut backs has finally selected a new president after a year long search.
Rufus L. Barfield, a 48-year old administrator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, will become president this July.
College officials, however, refused to comment on the selection, saying a formal announcement is scheduled for next Thursday by the college's board of trustees.
Bowie State College, once an all-black teacher's college, has had an enrollment decline that forced the school to eliminate nine faculty positions.
When contacted by telephone yesterday, Barfield said he was optimistic about his chances for improving the school.
"This college has a lot of potential. I believe Bowie State College has a golden opportunity to accept students on their academic ability and move them ahead no matter where they are," he said.
"My immediate priority when I come to Bowie is to begin a program of selling the college to the county, state and nation."
Selling a new image of the college will be key to the state college's future, college officials say. An enrollment decline of 250 students helped plunge the college into a fall semester deficit of $315,000.
College officials said they have made cutbacks in staff to eliminate the deficit at the school, which has a 4,000 student capacity.
Both college officials and students say part of the reason for the declining enrollment at the college is due to a "stigma" that has been attached to the all-black college.
"Students are reluctant to entoll in the school because it has an image of providing a poor education," said Debra Johnson, president of the college's student government association.
Barfield will take the spot vacant since Samuel L. Meyeres retired last year. A native of Kentucky, Barfield holds a PhD. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He thus been an administrator for the University of Kentucky where he served as vice president for academic affairs as well as the University of Arkansas.
About his selection, one member of the academic selection committee - who refused to be named and refused to name the newly selected president - said he was delighted with the "new president."
He said the new president was "the perfect man for the job" of rebuilding the 113-year-old academic institution.
Student association president Johnson, said the new college president could mean the difference between "Bowie State College living or dying as an institution."
She said the college student body is hoping the new president will take control of the institution and eliminate some of its problems.