New Morehouse College Interim President Harold Martin Jr. is grateful to serve at the institution that he loves tremendously, he said during a news conference held last week.
Martin, a 2002 alumnus and valedictorian of the historically Black college in Atlanta, was appointed to the position on June 26. He replaces Interim President William Taggart who passed away in early June.
"I feel remorseful because of the circumstances under which it came," he said. "Bill Taggart was an unbelievable man, a very capable leader for our institution. We were grateful to have him in our lives and we were grateful to have him at the institution."
He added, "I feel honored that our board, and our alum and our stakeholders felt confident in me ... to come into the college and provide what we need in this pivotal time and our future."
Martin said short-term goals include providing a healing process for the campus since losing Taggart, making sure faculty and staff are heard and preparing for the incoming freshmen class. Long-term plans includes fundraising, growing enrollment and engaging alumni.
Earning his degree in business administration from Morehouse, Martin also holds a master's degree from Harvard's Business School and a law degree from Yale Law School. Martin joined the college's BOT in 2014, subsequently stepping down after being named interim president.
Martin will serve in the capacity until a new president is hired. The college says it will not rush the process. The contract of former President John Wilson was not renewed and officially ended in June. However, Taggart took over as interim in April after the BOT announced Wilson would not finish out the rest of his contract, but would still be paid up until it expired.
"The beauty in selecting someone as capable as Harold is that we can take our time and make sure we get the selection right," said Willie Woods, chairman of Morehouse's Board of Trustees. "We have a number of very interested candidates."
Martin's background is in business, advising senior executives at institutions of higher education and at Fortune 500 companies, according to a news release.
Dorothy Cowser Yancy, a Morehouse Board member and former president of Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU in Charlotte, N.C., was appointed to serve as a senior adviser to Martin.
Martin is the second college leader in his family. His father, Harold Martin Sr., is the chancellor of N.C. A&T State University and a former chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.
"We're going to be doing a lot of hard and exciting work starting immediately," Martin added. "It's not going to feel like an interim period. It's going to feel like we're building momentum for our future because that's what we have a responsibility to do."