Cumberland County Schools and Methodist University likely will get new leaders in the coming year, while Fayetteville State University completes the celebration of its 150th anniversary.

The county Board of Education is taking applications for a new superintendent. The deadline is Jan. 8.

The new superintendent will succeed Frank Till Jr., who served as head of the school system for seven years. The school board voted unanimously in July to buy out the final year of Till’s $271,000 contract.

Tim Kinlaw, a 24-year veteran of Cumberland County Schools, is serving as interim superintendent. He has said he will not seek the permanent position.

Carrie Sutton, the school board’s chairwoman, said the board is optimistic that excellent candidates will apply.

The board is expected to meet in early February to discuss the applicants and select the ones it wants to interview. The first round of interviews is tentatively scheduled for later that month with final interviews expected in mid-March.

“Our hope is that we can start the 2018-19 school year with a new superintendent,” Sutton said.

The North Carolina School Boards Association is helping with the search. Residents in the community and school staff members filled out surveys about the characteristics they would like to see in a superintendent. And the board has heard from speakers at a public forum.

On the higher education front, Methodist University will replace Ben Hancock, who will retire as the school’s president in May. Trustees hope to have his successor in place soon after his departure.

Hancock has served as president of Methodist University since 2011. He is the fourth president of the university, which was chartered in 1956 and opened four years later.

During Hancock’s presidency, the university finished its largest-ever fundraising campaign, which generated nearly $42 million for new facilities, programs and endowment. The university also has seen the enrollment of a record numbers of students, the establishment of the School of Health Sciences, the creation of seven new majors, and the construction of several new buildings.

Fayetteville State University’s spring graduation ceremonies are expected to be the culmination of the school’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. The school is honoring its 150th anniversary with more than 100 events throughout the school year.

FSU was created as a school to educate black students at the end of the Civil War. The school was first known as the Howard School with headquarters on Gillespie Street.

The North Carolina General Assembly voted in the late 1800s to form a teaching college for black teachers. Lawmakers selected the Howard School as the site.

The college moved from Gillespie Street to its current location on Murchison Road in 1908. The school transitioned in 1972 from a teaching college to a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina.

Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at sdevane@fayobserver.com or 486-3572.