Interim head has long history with UMES
By Deborah Gates, staff writer, The Daily Times
PRINCESS ANNE (June 1, 2011) A "Hytche era" cabinet member credited for a key role in shaping the foundation for the food science and technology facility at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will return in August to guide the institution until a permanent president is named, which is expected to happen during the upcoming academic year.
Mortimer Neufville, a 14-year veteran at UMES who was vice president of Academic Affairs when he resigned in 1996, will assume the presidency on an interim basis, effective Aug. 16, a day after President Thelma B. Thompson steps down in retirement after nearly a decade.
Neufville, 71, has spent the last decade or more at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, where he is a former executive vice president and currently an APLU consultant. The association works to further the mission of land grant universities that in Maryland include UMES and the University of Maryland College Park.
Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland announced the UMES interim president early Tuesday, citing Neufville's past tenure at the 4,500-student historically black university and his
role in higher education.
"I am confident that his experience and success in higher education and his long history with UMES will serve the university quite well during this transition period," Kirwan said in a statement.
In a statement, Neufville said he intended to continue the enhancement of academic programs recently launched at the university, including engineering and pharmacy.
"UMES has been experiencing tremendous growth over the past few years," he said. "My intent is to continue to facilitate a positive learning environment that will ensure the advancement of this fine university."
Some in the UMES campus community recall Neufville's expertise in agricultural science and leadership as a member of the president's cabinet during a tenure that started in 1983. Neufville also served at UMES as research director and dean of agricultural science.
"He is well-respected at UMES, throughout the land grant community and nationally," said Ronnie Holden, vice president of administrative affairs at UMES who worked with Neufville throughout the years.
Holden, a UMES veteran of more than 30 years, recalled Neufville's active support of a proposed state-of-the-art food science and technology complex that was built in the early 2000s.
"He was instrumental in the development of the program of justification for the new building," Holden said. "As we developed the concept, he, Dr. Hytche, Maurice Ngwaba and (I) visited sites to understand the concept of such facilities. He is a dynamic and strong leader."
UMES and Neufville share a mission in the global advancement of agricultural science, UMES spokesman Bill Robinson said.
"He was a key administrator on our campus during the William P. Hytche era, which makes him very familiar with the institution," Robinson said. "Much of his career as an educator has been spent working in the area of agricultural science and helping people maximize their abilities to be more productive and efficient in feeding the world's ever-expanding population."
Neufville earned doctorate and master's degrees in animal science at the University of Florida. In 2001, Tuskegee University of Alabama, from which he earned an undergraduate degree, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. That same year, the University of Florida bestowed upon Neufville the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Alfonso N. Cornish, a UMES alumnus and vice president for education and development and chief learning officer for Norton Healthcare, is chairman of a national search committee that is expected to submit finalists for consideration by Kirwan and members of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. The board makes the final appointment.
This article is reprinted with permission of The (Salisbury, MD) Daily Times newspaper.