NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - 10 On Your Side is looking into the reason for the abrupt firing of Norfolk State University's president . NSU's Board of Visitors discussed the matter behind closed doors Friday night. Their decision surprised even Dr. Tony Atwater, himself.
Atwater told 10 On Your Side he didn't know why he was fired, but speculated one reason was a possible merger between NSU and Old Dominion University in the future.
"I was told by reliable sources that there are conversations in Richmond about a merger of Norfolk State and Old Dominion University," said Dr. Atwater.
NSU students had mixed reactions to the possibilty of a merger.
"I think that's a good idea. I'm okay with this campus, but we need more life and I think ODU would bring that to NSU," said NSU student Jamal Burnbage.
"We have our own culture, and we need to keep it that way. We don't need to merge right now," said NSU student Jermiah Williams.
10 On Your Side looked into this claim. An ODU spokesperson said the university has heard nothing about a merger between the two universities.
This claim and Dr. Atwater's termination is just one of many troubles the university has endured this year. This July, the Virginia Board of Nursing came down hard on the university for low passing rates on exams. They also barred the university from accepting new students to their associate degree program.
For two consecutive fiscal years, the historically black college has not been unable to complete a financial audit and has struggled to keep enrollment high.
It is not clear if any of these struggles had anything to do with Dr. Atwater's firing.
"I was told there were some rather subjective issues I will not go into," said Dr. Atwater. "But they were rather subjective issues, that the reason for termination without cause."
Dr. Atwater's termination won't come cheap. His contract calls on him to be paid more than $200,000 through June of next year.
Meanwhile, Sandra DeLoath, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, is now NSU's acting president.
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