Shock and disappointment

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B-CU alums and students react to the news about Chrite’s sudden resignation.

Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite speaks at a community welcome event in his honor in November 2019 at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center in Daytona Beach.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

In a move that seemed to come out of nowhere, Bethune-Cookman University is losing its seventh president.

Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite is leaving for Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. A statement about Chrite being named president was posted Wednesday on Bentley’s website.

“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.”

Trustees issue statement

Chrite will also become Bentley’s first Black president.

A day earlier, there was shock when Bethune-Cookman’s Board of Trustees issued a statement saying that Chrite was resigning. It was reported Chrite told his cabinet during a Tuesday meeting.

The board statement said, “We are not privy to the decision. We wish Dr. Chrite and his family good fortune, good health and happiness.”

Wildcats respond

Around Wildcat Nation, there was surprise and disappointment.

“I am grateful for the job of positive transformation that Dr. Chrite implemented. His tenure enhanced and secured the legacy of our founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune,” said Carmen Williamson, president of B-CU’s Volusia County Alumni Chapter.

“The state’s recurring funding, university’s accreditation, academic alignment and community engagement echo volumes of Chrite’s professional leadership. We wish Dr. Chrite well,” said Cynthia Slater, president of the Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP.

Slater is an alumnus of Bethune-Cookman.

She added, “I was shocked. Just look at the state of the university when he came in, which was shortly compounded by COVID-19. I think he did great under those circumstances.”

She also noted that he “restored the school’s accreditation, improved the bond status and reduced debt.’’

B-CU students also were stunned by the news.

Freshman Sophia Jackson told the Daytona Times, “Oh…maybe he is just tired of the school and the stuff he has to deal with.”

Senior Cedrick Cooper echoed, “That’s weird. Maybe he knows something that we don’t know.’’

Chrite’s departure also has students thinking about the school’s stability and future.

Sophomore Aaron Robinson stated, “I am surprised. I think this can cause the school to have financial problems again. He helped fix some of our financial issues. Before him, we feared our accreditation and state of the school. He eased those fears.’’

‘Very disappointed’

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

“I spoke with him that morning. I am very disappointed. I am bothered. I am supportive of Chrite,’’ McCray told the times.

McCray said he thinks that Chrite was pushed away by the board of trustees and its leadership.

“I do think the board ran him out. I think the board is responsible for this. There is a rift. I have some issues with the role of the board which needs to be addressed. Chrite leaving shows a lack of stability in the Board’s leadership.” stressed McCray.

Departs on May 30

At Bentley University, Chrite will lead a school with an endowment of $280 million and 4,000 students. He takes over on June 1.

Chrite’s time at B-CU will have end in less than two years. He officially departs on May 30 at the end of the academic year.

B-CU did not respond for comment by the Daytona Times’ Wednesday night deadline. 

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