Twice in the past three months, shootings have occurred on the campus. The latest was Nov. 30, when a 20-year-old man, who police said is not a student at Morgan, shot a lineman on the university's football team as students wound down the last day of classes before fall semester finals.

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Manoj K. Jha, director of the university's Center of Advanced Transportation and Infrastructure Engineering Research, on seven counts, charging him with fabricating documents in a research proposal and spending grant money on his mortgage and credit card bills.

Also last month, Morgan athletic director Floyd Kerr accidentally forwarded an email to football coach Donald Hill-Eley outlining a schedule for seeking Hill-Eley's replacement.

The school never made an official comment on the coach's status, and Hill-Eley said Monday that he still hasn't met with Morgan officials or received any official communication about his job. He said he wasn't sure whether Wilson's departure might affect him, adding, "My hands are tied."

Hill-Eley, who recently completed his 11th season as Morgan coach, has said he felt pressure from Wilson to improve the program's on-field performance without a commensurate rise in the university's financial commitment.

Wilson has overseen recent growth at the university. Officials broke ground Nov. 28 on a $72 million business school, part of a plan to expand the campus' western edge and improve a nearby shopping center. At a ceremony, Wilson called the project "the dawn of a new era at Morgan."

The university is also in the early phases of planning the "Morgan Community Mile," an effort to improve the areas within a one-mile radius of campus.

Early in his tenure, Wilson launched what was dubbed the $5 Scholarship Fund seeking to raise $5 million for students facing rising tuition rates and shrinking financial aid. The fund was inspired by Wilson's father, an Alabama sharecropper who paid for his son's college education with his life savings.

In 2010, President Barack Obama named Wilson to the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a group that advises federal officials on ways to strengthen the institutions.

Before coming to Morgan, Wilson built a reputation for using universities to solve problems in struggling communities. At Rutgers University, he helped land a community empowerment grant that spurred development in Camden, N.J., while at Auburn University, he co-founded the Alabama Black Belt Community Foundation, a nonprofit focused on creating economic opportunities in a predominantly poor, black area of Alabama.

Baltimore Sun reporters Childs Walker and Kevin Rector contributed to this article.