WASHINGTON (AP) _ Franklyn G. Jenifer, a Massachusetts educator, was named president of Howard University on Saturday, the first time in the predominately black college's 122-year history that an alumnus has been given the post.

A 13-member search committee deliberated for more than six hours before selecting Jenifer, the chancellor of the Massachusetts Board of Regents, over two other finalists. He succeeds James Cheek, who retired in June after 20 years as Howard's president.

Jenifer, a native Washingtonian, received bachelor's and master's degrees from Howard in 1962 and 1965, respectively. He earned a doctorate in plant virology from the University of Maryland in 1970.

Jenifer has pledged to streamline the school's financial aid and housing programs, which many of the school's 13,000 students complain are frought with lengthy delays and red tape.

Jennifer was picked over acting president Carlton Alexis and H. Patrick Swygert, an executive vice president at Temple University.

Prior to his current job, Jennifer served as vice chancellor of the New Jersey Board of Higher Education and also worked as an associate provost at Rutgers in New Jersey.