CINCINNATI -- Clarence G. Newsome announced Thursday that he will step down from his position as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center effective March 31, 2017. Newsome has served as president of the institution since 2013.
“C.G. has accomplished a great deal in his three years as president,” says National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Board Chair Mitchel Livingston. “He has successfully charted a course that has helped to bring the institution a higher level of integrity and credibility. I believe his vision for the organization will leave a lasting legacy and guide the museum in continuing its present trend of winning new partners and increasing its revenue streams and income.”
Under Newsome’s leadership the institution’s endowment has grown from $4 million to $10 million and ended the 2016 fiscal year with an operational surplus. His administration has forged many new partnerships, local and national, including WGN, Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. More recent partnerships include Doc’s on the Banks, Smith & Hannon Bookstore, AT&T and David Rubinstein.
“The opportunity to provide leadership for an organization with such a necessary, noble, and inspiring mission has been one of the joys of my career to date,” Newsome said. “The time has come for me to focus on some personal matters related to health and family. I am confident that I have provided the quality of foresight and vision that will benefit the growth and the progress of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.”
Newsome is a triple alumnus of Duke University, receiving a B.A. in religious studies in 1972, an M.Div. in 1975 and a Ph.D. in American religious history in 1982. While an undergraduate, he lettered in football and was the first African-American scholarship athlete to graduate from Duke University. In addition, he was on the Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll for outstanding academic achievement during athletic participation in ACC.
Newsome currently serves as a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees. He is past president of Shaw University, and he previously served as dean of the School of Divinity at Howard University and as a member of the Duke Divinity School faculty.
Known for his academic work in African-American history and culture as well as religious history, Newsome oversaw the creation of a museum of religious art at Howard University, acquiring more than $2.7 million in church artifacts and icons with support from the Smithsonian Institution. He has also served on several major committees of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and is a member and past president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, a nationwide think tank of scholars engaged in studying the religious experience of African Americans.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Board of Directors will begin a national search to identify a successor in the coming weeks.