Interim chief named at Bowie State Retired lobbyist Holloway to take over for Pollard, who resigned presidency

December 09, 1998|By Michael Hill and Tom Pelton | Michael Hill and Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

BOWIE -- Wendell M. Holloway, a former Air Force pilot who worked for more than a decade as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, will take over as interim president of Bowie State University in January.

He will replace Nathanael Pollard Jr., who announced his resignation Friday in the middle of an inquiry into whether he should be fired in the misspending of scholarship money at the university's fund-raising foundation.

"I was very happy in my retirement," Holloway, 65, told 250 people packed into a campus meeting hall yesterday. "But I couldn't back off from this. You cannot let any institution that is making major contributions stumble, let alone fall."

Holloway is taking a leave from his post on the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland, which oversees Bowie State and 10 other public universities.

System Chancellor Donald P. Langenberg said a committee to search for a permanent president for the 133-year-old university should make its choice within six months. Holloway did not rule himself out as a candidate.

An Aug. 13 audit found that Bowie State's fund-raising foundation misspent $182,000 on such extravagances as banquets and a cruise.

Auditors said much of the blame for the expenditures fell on Pollard, president for five years.

Holloway takes the helm of Bowie State at a time when the school in Prince George's County is trying to transform itself from a teacher's college into a regional university.

While it has been successful in attracting millions of dollars in science grants, Bowie State has struggled with poor morale. Though the announcement of Holloway's selection was greeted

warmly, the division on the 5,000-student campus was evident at yesterday's meeting.

"People are so glad to get rid of Pollard that they are willing to accept anyone who appears to be fair-minded," said Amos White, a fine arts professor and president of the university's branch of the American Association of University Professors.

But Sidney Walker, chairman of the University Council, said, "I'm sorry to see Pollard not finish the business he set out to finish."

Walker, a professor of English, said he appreciated Pollard's "emphasis on technology, his push toward excellence and his tightening of academic standards."

Holloway said he was not concerned about taking over a campus in the midst of controversy.

'People are focused'

"Tension means that people are focused," he said. "It means that people are listening and awake. I don't see it as a problem but, as they say, as an opportunity to show what we can do."

One of the most immediate problems Holloway faces is raising cash for the university.

Although Bowie State under Pollard set a goal of raising $10 million, spending at the school's foundation left a $182,000 deficit in the organization's operating accounts.

Lobbying connections

Holloway yesterday pledged to use all the connections he made as a Capitol Hill lobbyist to help raise money.

A Washington native, Holloway graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1954 and spent the next 20 years in the Air Force, during which he flew missions in Vietnam. He ended his military career in 1974 as a lieutenant colonel and received a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in public administration the next year.

After three years on the staff of Rep. Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, a California Democrat, he joined Ford Motor Co. as a Washington lobbyist. He retired from Ford in 1994 and set up his own lobbying firm, Holloway and Associates.

Pub Date: 12/09/98

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