NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - After serving just two years as Norfolk State University president, Tony Atwater was fired by the Norfolk State Board of Visitors Friday evening.
An NSU spokesperson told WAVY.com Atwater was fired after the Board of Visitors voted 7 to 4 for the president's dismissal in a meeting Friday.
WAVY.com spoke to Atwater who said the news was "sudden and disappointing." He said he was terminated without cause, but admitted that the board has no obligation to explain their decision to him. He claims the Board went into a closed session without him for over an hour and came back out with two options: resign or be terminated effective immediately.
Atwater says he's had a very challenging time leading NSU. He says he's had four rectors in two years and the university has been a very unstable environment. He said he believes his termination is the result of "bad politics and hidden agendas."
He told WAVY.com that issues such as the school's accreditation, problems with the nursing program, declining enrollment, and trouble with financial aid are masking a much bigger agenda with ties to Richmond. Atwater claims he was told his termination may have been influenced by an effort to possibly merge Norfolk State University with Old Dominion University in the future.
Students on campus told WAVY.com the news was a shock, but that they would just have to adjust to the change.
The Board named Sandra DeLoatch as Atwater's temporary replacement. DeLoach is currently NSU's Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Atwater became the school's fifth president on July 1, 2011.
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