The historically Black Clark Atlanta University is mourning the loss of the second president to lead the institution. Dr. Walter D. Broadnax died on Dec. 3 at age 78.
Broadnax served as president of the institution from 2002 through 2008, succeeding CAU’s first President, Dr. Thomas Cole. The prominent HBCU announced the news on social media.
“Clark Atlanta University Remembers the Legacy of Dr. Walter D. Broadnax, who served as the second president of Clark Atlanta University from (2002- 2008). Broadnax dedicated his life to the advancement of our people through education. We send our service and condolences to his entire family and the higher education community,” CAU wrote in a tribute post on Instagram and Facebook.
According to his biography on The History Makers, Broadnax had a distinguished career as an educator that spanned over 30 years before his presidency at Clark Atlanta.
Born in 1944 in Star City, Arkansas, he always excelled in education, graduating with distinction from Hoisington High School in 1962. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow who earned a bachelor’s degree from Washburn University in 1967 and a Master of Public Health from the University of Kansas in 1969.
Broadnax completed his Ph.D. at Syracuse University in 1975, where he also taught classes and was later appointed as a distinguished professor of public administration and international relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Throughout his career, Broadnax used his education and skills in various positions – including teaching at the University of Virginia, Howard University, University of Maryland, University of Rochester and Harvard Kennedy School.
He also held posts as president of the New York Civil Service Commission; director of Children, Youth and Adult Services for the state of Kansas; and principal deputy assistant secretary for the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1980 in President Jimmy Carter’s administration.
Broadnax also served at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was a senior staff member for the Advanced Study Program of the Brookings Institution, among other roles.
Before coming to CAU, Broadnax served as a member of Colin Powell’s U.S. Secretary of State management advisory board and was the Center for Governmental Research president.
During his presidency at Clark Atlanta, the school became the only private HBCU designated as a research university and the second HBCU overall to receive the classification.
His legacy is not without critique, however. In 2007, tensions between Broadnax and CAU faculty and staff became public, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
Broadnax admitted he wasn’t popular on campus due to making difficult decisions, including layoffs and department cuts.
“I regret that we had to go through what has been a very trying period at the university,” Mr. Broadnax said. “Not a lot of people have been beating down the door to see me. For them, I have been the face of the difficulty.”
According to a report by the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Broadnax believed public service was a lifestyle.
“Public service isn’t about something you do today and then you’re done. It’s about improving our society, improving the world … for the people that live in it,” Broadnax said.
He was married to Angel L. Wheelock and has a daughter named Andrea.
PHOTO: Dr. Walter D. Broadnax. (Photo Courtesy of Syracuse University)