Morehouse College interim president Bill Taggart has died, report says

Interim Morehouse College president Bill Taggart has died of an aneurysm, officials announced Thursday.

Taggart, 55, was named interim president in April.

The college’s board of trustees released the following statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Bill Taggart, a beloved colleague, father and friend. For the past two years, Bill devoted himself wholeheartedly to Morehouse College. We are eternally grateful for his loyal support, counsel and the leadership he provided to students, faculty and alumni. Throughout his tenure, Bill had a positive impact on Morehouse College and the Greater Atlanta Business Community. He leaves behind a long legacy of compassion, integrity and devotion. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

Taggart was appointed after some problems at the college. It hired President John Silvanus Wilson in 2011 to bring change to Morehouse, but released him early this year from his contract. There was a critical report issued by consultants the college hired, which pointed out a poor working relationship between Wilson and some board members. Wilson’s effective firing led to protests by Morehouse men from around the country and a shakeup  on the college’s board.

The college is searching for a new president.

Morehouse alumni association president Howard Willis said he was stunned to learn of Taggart’s death because he jogged daily and seemed to be in good health. Willis, a doctor, said he hoped the college could talk to Taggart at some point about whether he would take the job permanently.

“He was instrumental in getting the faculty, staff and students all on the same page,” Willis said. “I was hopeful we would look at him for sustained leadership.”

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution an autopsy will be conducted Thursday to determine how Taggart died, which is standard.

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Read about issues that led to Taggart being named interim president earlier this year.

Five things to know about what happened at Morehouse.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talked to three Morehouse graduates about the college’s present, future and the future of historically black colleges and universities.