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Dr. Vann R. Newkirk 23rd President of Wilberforce UniversityThe Wilberforce University Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Vann R. Newkirk as the university’s 23rd president. Dr. Newkirk will assume the presidency in July of this year, succeeding Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard, who announced his retirement as president in March of 2022. The Wilberforce Family expresses heartfelt appreciation for Dr. Pinkard’s dedicated service to the university.  His sound leadership during a global health crisis is one of his many contributions that will not be forgotten, and his legacy will continue to inspire and influence the future of this great institution for generations to come.

Dr. Newkirk brings a wealth of experience and has a sterling reputation in higher education, having served in various leadership roles at several institutions. He presently serves as an interim associate vice president at Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, and he is a former president of the historic Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to his presidential appointment at Fisk, Dr. Newkirk also served as that university’s provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“I am honored and excited to be joining the Wilberforce University community,” Dr. Newkirk said. “As an HBCU graduate, I also understand the transformative power of these institutions and I look forward to working with the talented faculty, staff and students at Wilberforce to continue the university’s legacy of excellence.”  He continued, “Our students are young people who have dreams and aspirations when they come to us. We have to guide them to the right kind of career paths.”

Throughout his career, the Elizabethtown, North Carolina native has built and managed off-campus degree programs, and he has enhanced the administration of institutional research. His first priority for Wilberforce he says is to engage community supporters who can assist in the university’s fund-raising efforts. This, he says, will facilitate premium academic programs and add value to the university’s distinction among nationally ranked liberal arts colleges.

Currently, Dr. Newkirk is writing a history of African Americans in Alabama. In one of his works, “New Life for Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs), he writes to improve the long-term viability of HBCUs by identifying their challenges and models of success and exploring their management systems. A noted historian, he has written extensively on crime and punishment in North Carolina. He has also authored the 2008 seminal work, “Lynching in North Carolina”, which won the 2009 Willie Parker History Award for the best non-fiction study of North Carolina.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Newkirk to Wilberforce University,” said Board of Trustees Chair Mark Wilson. “His experience, vision, and commitment to educating our students make him the ideal choice to lead our university into the future.”

Dr. Newkirk attended North Carolina A & T University and received his undergraduate degree in sociology from Barber-Scotia College. He holds a Master of Arts degree in history from Winthrop University, a Master of Science degree from North Carolina Central University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in history from Howard University.

Dr. Newkirk has three adult children, Vann R. Newkirk, II (Kerone), Dr. Cassandra Newkirk, and Richard Newkirk.

Welcome to the WU, Dr. Newkirk!


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