Statement about my retirement

Sent via email to the campus community
Monday, March 1, 2010

Over the years I have written you many “catching you up” notes. This one is the most difficult one to pen. I am announcing that I plan to step down from my position as chancellor, with my last day being October 31, 2010. This is pending the approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, which is expected to consider my intention to retire at its March 10 board meeting.

To say that it will be difficult to leave a job I love, an institution I love, and the city that has become a wonderful home for Carolyn and me, doesn’t do justice to the depth of my feelings. And I do this knowing full well that I could stay longer.

But every time we travel east to visit our children and five grandchildren – maybe three times a year – we literally see those kids growing up too quickly. We want to be more a part of their lives, and our children want us to be there, too.

I know it may sound like a cliché, but I will be 66 years old in a couple of weeks, and I believe it’s the right time for me to step down after being at UIS for nearly nine years. It’s just time. I’ve heard others use those words on several occasions and was unsure what was meant, but now I know, and it’s true for me, too.

There are several reasons that I plan to stay until mid-fall. In July we will begin what may well be our most difficult fiscal year in history, ‘though we have been through some pretty tough ones together already. I believe it important to be here to get that budget year operating, establishing our ability to deal with it and continue to move forward. Also, we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of our institution this fall, and that includes a mid-October celebration. To be here to get the new year started and then to celebrate the accomplishments of the past decade will be very special for all of us, together, because the development of UIS has never been about me, but about the work of all of us. A highlight of our 40th anniversary celebration will be an exciting kickoff to our final year of the “Brilliant Futures” private fundraising campaign. We must reach our 28 million dollar goal, and I want to do everything I can to get that final push off to a super start.

President Stanley O. Ikenberry intends to start consultation soon with the campus community and the Board of Trustees to begin a search.

In the meantime, I will remain fully engaged in our important work now going on at UIS. We are still on that upward trajectory, in fast pursuit of our vision to become one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the nation. It’s a vision our entire university developed together, and which we as a university have embraced.

I am confident that with the leadership we have in our colleges, our administrative divisions, and Student Affairs, and with the faculty, staff and students we have recruited and retained in recent years, UIS has a great future. We also have solid leadership in the Campus Senate, the Academic Professional Advisory Committee, the Civil Service Advisory Council, and the Student Government Association.

I am so grateful to all of you for your dedication.

You are a major reason it’s easy for me to say that UIS is in good hands.

I will forever be grateful to former President James J. Stukel, who persuaded me to come to Springfield and helped me envision what we might all do here, and to Presidents B. Joseph White and Stanley O. Ikenberry, both of whom have been totally supportive of UIS, its mission, and Carolyn and me. And I am grateful to former trustees who were part of the hiring process and were very helpful in my getting established in Springfield - people like Tom Lamont and Susan Gravenhorst and Ken Schmidt.

We will set aside time this fall to reflect more formally and in greater detail as a university community about what we’ve done together in the past decade.

For now, our work goes on, and I know that you will have questions and concerns as UIS enters another period of transition.

I look forward to talking with you.