Bennett College President Phyllis Dawkins is out, effective immediately

Until a replacement is named, Bennett will be led by a transition team headed by Gwendolyn O’Neal, a Bennett alumna.

Glenn H. Burkins
Dr. Phyllis Dawkins. (Photo: Bennett college)

Bennett College President Phyllis Dawkins is leaving the Greensboro school as of today, the board of trustees announced in a statement late Friday.

The trustees did not offer a public explanation for Dawkins’ abrupt departure.

“It’s a personnel matter that we can’t expound on,” Hanna Morecraft, a Bennett spokeswoman, told Qcitymetro.

In a statement emailed to media, the trustees said that, effective immediately, Bennett would be led by a transition team headed by Dr. Gwendolyn O’Neal, an alumna, who has been named interim president.

“The College will immediately commence a search for a permanent President and expects to name one by the start of the academic year,” the statement said.

“We thank Dr. Dawkins for her time and contribution to Bennett College, especially her leadership during challenging times and her dedication to the Bennett Community,” Dr. Gladys Robinson, chairwoman of the Bennett College Board of Trustees and North Carolina State Senator, said in a statement. “We look forward to securing new leadership that will take the College to the next level.”

‘Stand With Bennett’

Under Dawkins’ leadership, Bennett earlier this year completed a national campaign that raised $9.5 million. The “Stand With Bennett” campaign began after the school learned that its accreditation had been cancelled because of financial concerns. Bennett sued the accrediting organization in a bid to keep its accreditation. That suit is pending.

Sources told Qcitymetro that Bennett in recent days had laid off staff and at least one faculty member. Morecraft, the Bennett spokeswoman, declined to say how many positions were eliminated.

“There have been efforts to streamline operations at the college through staff reductions,” she said. “However, I cannot comment on personnel matters, including layoffs.” 

Looking forward

Dawkins was named Bennett’s interim president in August 2016 after serving as the school’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. She was later named president.

In announcing Dawkins’ departure, Bennett trustees said the school “is well positioned to meet the educational needs of women of color who seek to be leaders in the places they live and work. “

“Bennett College remains committed to a presidential search that involves stakeholders across the College’s constituencies and will continue to provide updates over the coming months,” the trustees’ statement said.


Glenn H. Burkins is founder and publisher of Qcitymetro. Read his bio. Contact: gburkins@qcitymetro.com

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