Mickey Burnim, newly appointed interim president of Coppin State University. Photo via Coppin State University.

As a search committee looks for a permanent president for Coppin State University, state university system officials have appointed former Bowie State University president Mickey L. Burnim as the West Baltimore school’s interim leader.

Burnim arrives at Coppin after briefly serving as interim president last summer at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and following an 11-year run at the helm of Bowie State in Prince George’s County. He’s taking over for Maria Thompson, who’s served as Coppin’s president since July 2015 and announced at the start of the year that she’s leaving June 30.

“We are grateful to Mickey Burnim for his ongoing service to the University System of Maryland,” University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret said in a statement. “Dr. Burnim very capably guided the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on an interim basis last summer, and his considerable experience and perspective position him quite well to lead Coppin during the course of a search for President Thompson’s successor.”

Burnim starts July 1. The USM Board of Regents has appointed a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Thompson, which can take eight to 12 months to complete. The committee will recommend finalists to be considered by the chancellor, Caret, and the Board of Regents, who will make the final decision.

Burnim, who holds a Ph.D in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, previously served as chancellor of another historically black college, Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, from 1996 to 2006 before coming to Maryland.

The NAACP’s Baltimore branch has criticized the USM Board of Regents’ search process for a permanent president. The local civil rights organization’s president, Rev. Kobi Little, told The Sun over the weekend that regents waited months to begin the process, did not appoint a NAACP representative to assist and gave little notice about their first public meeting, held last week.

He also said he worried about how much funding Coppin has received, historically. “Given the history of white supremacy as relates to HBCUs in Maryland, it seems odd that the chancellor has not been intentional about reaching out to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations,” he told the paper.

A national executive search firm, Academic Search, is also recruiting candidates with the USM board’s search committee.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...