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Shields to head Tennessee State University

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The former president of Albany State University will again head a historically black university after being selected by the Tenneesee Board of Regents as the interim president of Tennessee State University.

Portia Holmes-Shields, who served as president of Albany State from 1996 through 2005, overseeing the university's rebuilding efforts after the Flood of '94, was named by TBR Chancellor John Morgan to fill the post at Tennessee State starting Jan. 2.

"Dr. Shields will do an excellent job leading TSU during this transition period," Morgan said in a statement on the university's website. "This is a critical time for TSU and all of higher education. Dr. Shields will provide strong leadership and quality governance to ensure TSU's progress with accreditation re-affirmation, to enhance student success and to prepare the campus for advancement toward the Complete College Tennessee Act."

When Shields takes office, she'll be treading the same stomping grounds as her successor at ASU.

Current Albany State President Everette Freeman was the executive assistant to the president at TSU from January 1997 to July 2001.

When Shields takes office, she will inherit a school that, according to press reports, has been put on warning from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after problems emerged that, if not addressed within a year, could lead to sanctions and possibly the loss of accreditation.

Known to most locally as "Madam President," Shields' presidency -- which was filled with prosperous growth for the university both in terms of campus size and enrollment -- was dimmed in the end by a nagging controversy over the handling of $3 million left as a gift by the estate of Albany native Ray Charles.