President moves: Retiring leaders shine as they conclude 10+ years of service

In the 12 years that Morna Foy has led the Wisconsin Technical College System, she can stand with her head held high knowing that her schools educated nearly 288,000 students last year, more than 50% more students than the University of Wisconsin system.

The majority of the college leaders transitioning in or out of the president position in the past two weeks have demonstrated excellence in one of higher education’s top executive positions. The three presidents announcing their retirement served their respective institutions for more than a decade, helping transform academic programming and spur interest from the community.


Joseph McDonnell – University of Maine at Farmington
President Joseph McDonnell (Source: University of Maine at Farmington)

Joseph McDonnell initially filled the University of Maine at Farmington’s president role as an interim. However, the western Maine university’s board of trustees are so impressed with his performance that they’ve appointed him to the permanent position.

McDonnell is widely accredited for helping reel in adult learners through Farmington’s advancement of online degrees, certificate offerings and teacher apprenticeships. There are currently around 190,000 Mainers with some college but no degree, a ripe pool of potential students that colleges have leveraged their marketing toward recently. The newly appointed president has also programmed pathway programs for students on the other side of the spectrum—Maine high schoolers.

UMF has largely buffed its five-year 25% drop in student enrollment, declining by less than 1% compared to the previous year. University leaders consider it a turnaround and are riding with McDonnell for the future. In McDonnell’s previous roles at UMF in the past 13 years, he’s served as a faculty member, dean and provost.

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Donald Christian – Concordia University Texas

Concordia University Texas will have to begin searching for its next leader—and one willing to fill some big shoes—after its president of ten years has chosen to call it a job well done, according to a university press release.

Christian implemented two five-year strategic plans during his tenure. While the first focused on reorganizing its operations, culling community support and boosting institutional morale, the second moved on to improving the student experience and giving back to the Central Texas region. In touch with its faith-based mission, Christian expanded the school’s faith-based spaces and on-campus dormitories.

Prior to the presidency, Christian contributed to the College of Business’ nine-year growth as its dean by adding an MBA program, creating accelerated programs and orchestrating a popular speaker series.

The outgoing president will retire by July 2025. He plans to guide Concordia’s transition of power and serve a supporting role to the following president until then.

President Morna Foy (Source: Wisconsin Technical College System)
Morna Foy – Wisconsin Technical College System

In the 12 years that Morna Foy has led the Wisconsin Technical College System, she can stand with her head held high knowing that her schools educated nearly 288,000 students last year, more than 50% more students than the University of Wisconsin system, according to the Milwaukee Journal SentinelLeaning on such a high note, calling her retirement now isn’t such a bad idea.

To serve the system’s mission of upskilling the workforce, WTC offers a variety of two- and four-year degrees and certificates. Foy has leveraged industry partnerships and education philanthropies to ensure its schools excel. She has also increased high school access to education through dual enrollment and stackable credentials, according to the university.

Foy, who’s served the WTC system for 26 years, is leaving her retirement deadline open-ended as the Board begins its search process for the next leader.

Laurie Lachance – Thomas College (Maine)

Thomas College would not be where it currently stands today if it weren’t for the contributions of its president, Laurie Lachance. Now, the college will have to savor her leadership until she retires in June

The first woman and alumna of the small Maine college, Lachance has spearheaded innovation in the fast-evolving curriculum of higher education. Lachance helped Thomas scale three-year degrees, 100% online programs and create innovative professional and career development programming. She is also accredited for securing $50 million in funding for the Sukeforth Family Sports Center and other facilities, according to the university.

Lachance has led the Maine college since 2012.

Stepping down

Wiebe Boer – Calvin University (Mich.)
Wiebe Boer (Source: Calvin University)

Calvin University’s Board of Trustees is letting president Wiebe Boer go after discovering he had sent a series of “inappropriate messages” to a non-student member of the university, mLive reports. Boer had served the Christian college for two years prior to the dismissal.

While the report documenting Boer’s behavior noted that he did not engage in any sexually explicit communications or physical contact, the board described the conduct as “concerning,” according to a school statement.

Boer denied some of the accusations but has admitted some of the comments he sent were below the standards of presidential leadership, Fox 17 reports.

Jim Everett – College of Idaho

After six years of service, College of Idaho President Jim Everett is done co-piloting and will allow his partner Doug Brigham to take over the presidency full-time. Instead, Everett will be serving the college in a more involved fundraising capacity from here on out.

Fundraising makes sense for Everett. Known for the joyful spirit he has brought to the private liberal arts college, he will fit in well helping build community connections, according to the university. One of his first tasks will be helping raise money for a $25 million scholarship fund. The university has suffered a string of financial and enrollment setbacks since the onset of the pandemic, the Idaho Press reports.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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