Bank of America Corp. named Walter E. Massey, a longtime director and president emeritus at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, its new chairman, effective immediately.
After months of anger following the acquisition of troubled investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co., shareholders voted at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday to separate the jobs of chairman and CEO. Former Chairman John Lewis will remain the CEO of the bank.
“Massey has been a strong leader for our company,” a spokesperson for the bank said. “He brings a broad range of experience and a deep knowledge of Bank of America’s businesses and strategy.”
A recognized leader in science, business, and education, Massey has been a director of Morehouse’s board since 1998. He also served as the college’s ninth president (No. 3 on the BE 50 Top Colleges for African Americans) from 1995 to 2007. Under his leadership, the college raised $118 million and constructed several learning facilities, including a state-of-the-art technology building.
“President Massey will provide strategic leadership, integrity, and sound business judgment for one of America’s great financial institutions,” said Robert M. Franklin, Morehouse president. “Morehouse College is exceedingly proud of alumnus and President Emeritus Massey, who is a quintessential renaissance man.”
Calls for Lewis’ resignation have been on the rise since Bank of America’s purchased Countrywide and Merrill for more than $52 billion.
In his remarks to shareholders, he continued to defend the acquisitions despite a $15 billion fourth quarter loss by Merrill. “I continue to believe we have built the best financial company in the industry, and that our results over the long term will bear that out,” Lewis said at the meeting.
Massey assumes his new role at the financial services company as it works speedily to repay $45 billion in government aid received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Earlier this month Bank of America has made arrangements to pay back $713 million of the loan money.
Massey is no stranger to the colossus financial company; he served as a director at Bank of America from 1993 to 1998. The Mississippi native earned a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics from Morehouse in 1958. He received his Master’s and doctorate degrees in physics in 1966 from Washington University in St. Louis. Massey’s research has involved the study of quantum liquids and solids.
He and his wife, Shirley Anne, have two sons and three grandchildren. He became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Psi Chapter at Morehouse.
Bank of America earned $2.56 billion after preferred dividends for all of 2008, down from $14.80 billion in fiscal 2007.
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