The start of an academic year may be an awkward time for leadership transitions, such as a change in president. But the first few weeks of the Fall semester may be the opportune time to let the community know what lies ahead.
Two presidents with over a decade of experience have recently announced their intention to retire or step down next summer. As both are bound to enjoy leaving behind relatively positive legacies at their respective institutions, it is sure to be a year worth savoring.
As Yale University and Missouri State University must begin ramping up president search committees, Temple University has fortified theirs, while Florida Atlantic University finds itself at a strange standstill.
Peter Salovey – Yale University
The end of this academic year will mark the end of President Peter Salovey’s time at the helm of Yale University. Though he steps down, he will not leave Yale. Instead, he will be returning as a full-time faculty member.
Salovey will most likely be remembered for expanding access to one of higher education’s most prestigious institutions. Yale has undergone its largest undergraduate expansion, enrolling over 6,000 students as of last fall, The Washington Post reports.
But Solovey has geared expanding Yale’s reach particularly for under-resourced students and those of minority races and ethnicities. Incoming first-year student eligible for the Pell Grant has doubled since their first year, and those of Black, Latino and Native origin has climbed 8%.
Student support services may be easier to fund thanks to a $20 billion addition to Yale’s endowment since Salovey took office. As of June 2022, Yale’s endowment tops $40 billion, according to a statement from Yale.
Clif Smart – Missouri State University
President Clif Smart has announced he is concluding his tenure at Missouri State University at the turn of his 14th year next summer.
Smart led Missouri State’s two biggest fundraising campaigns, collecting $441 million in total. This surge in funding allowed the school to pursue upgrading and renovation across more than 10 facilities, including an amphitheater, two stadiums and a health and wellness center.
Missouri State also strengthened its academic programs at the baccalaureate and postgraduate levels, becoming an accredited doctoral-granting institution under Smart. Upon graduation, Missouri State grads could expect stronger employment rates during his tenure.
“It has been my greatest honor to serve as president of Missouri State University,” Smart said in a statement. “I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the unyielding dedication and the remarkable passion of our students, faculty and staff.”
Notable developments—or lack thereof—in presidential searches
Temple University (Pa.)
Temple University has officially secured agreements with two firms and appointed a committee to begin its president search after Jason Wingard’s turbulent exit.
Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm, will lead the search, anchored by their resume in helping the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University and Loyola University Chicago. The Collective Genius will meet with Temple stakeholders, students and faculty to gather what kind of candidate they are interested in. The Temple community will also create an advisory committee to evaluate eventual candidates, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University’s presidential search is still stuck in the mud nine months since former President John Kelley stepped down in June of last year. Their interim president, Stacy Volnick, will have served a year on Sept. 19.
FAU was down to three presidential finalists in July, but the search was shelved by Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the Florida State University System Board of Governors. State education officials believed FAU was “holding a straw poll” in its search and criticized it for asking applicants about their sexual orientation, CBS 12 reports.
However, FAU community members speculate that state officials halted the search because Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), Gov. Ron DeSantis’ preferred candidate, did not make the shortlist. As the search stagnates, whispers are bound to grow louder, which Fine slammed.
“I think what leadership at FAU should do is shut its mouth, stop trying to put out propaganda, and allow the Board of Governors to do their job,” Fine added. “I have no idea what they’re going to find.”