by Robin Kemp

T. Ramon Stuart has resigned as president of Clayton State University, citing health problems. Kerry Heyward, who is the attorney for Georgia State University, has been named as interim president.

Here is the campus-wide e-mail Stuart sent out Wednesday, which one source said caught everyone completely by surprise:

“Dear Laker Nation:

It has been my distinct pleasure to lead Clayton State University as its fifth president. In such a short time we have come so far, and I am confident beyond a shadow of a doubt that the University is on the right path to go to new heights.

As many of you know, I have had some unfortunate health challenges this year that resulted in the removal of my kidney. Unfortunately, my health challenges continue to plague me, and I am unable to effectively lead the University in a manner that it deserves. Thus, I notified Chancellor Perdue today that I plan to resign my position as President of Clayton State University.

I appreciate the support provided to my family and I during my tenure as President, and I appreciate the support that each of you will continue to give to make sure that Clayton State University continues to row in unison.

Please expect communication soon that shares an interim who will lead the University. I ask that each of you support this person as you supported me as the University embarks on this new direction.

Best wishes, T. Ramon Stuart, Ph.D. President Clayton State University.”

Stuart was the university’s first Black president. He was named in July after serving as provost at Fort Valley State University.

Heyward holds a B.A. from the University of North Florida and a juris doctorate from Stetson College of Law, and is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Florida Bar.

Heyward, an attorney, has been a powerful player at Georgia State’s expansion in recent years, including the purchases of the former SunTrust tower at 25 Park Place, Georgia-Pacific Plaza at 55 Park Place, and Turner Field, as well as the 188 Martin Luther King Blvd. football practice field.

University System Chancellor Sonny Perdue said, ““Clayton State University is focused on being a regional powerhouse in metro Atlanta, helping to meet the workforce needs of its community while supporting students toward their degrees. Kerry will continue this momentum as we work with the campus community to search for a new president to lead the university.”

Heyward said, “I appreciate Chancellor Perdue’s confidence in me and look forward to supporting Clayton State’s faculty, staff and students on their mission to make Laker Nation a force in higher education. The university’s campus community has already done so much to support student success and I can’t wait to join them on that journey.”

Read about GSU’s expansion during Heyward’s tenure under President Mark Becker

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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