Endings are never easy, and they’re rarely smooth. And the most recent smattering of presidents to soon depart is a stark reminder of that.
Of the four college and university presidents whose run will end this academic year, only one is retiring on satisfying terms. A personal aliment and pressure from higher-ups have led to three early dismissals, some of which have garnered pushback from the community.
Of the four presidents whose tenure is up, three lasted for 10 years or more.
However, The Ohio State University is celebrating the hiring of one military veteran and proven leader with a track record in student success for underserved students.
Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. – The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University has finally completed its president search, landing on the current University of Nebraska System president, Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. His term will begin in January 2024 and will run through 2028.
At Nebraska, Carter oversaw almost 70,000 students, faculty and staff at four campuses. His most notable contribution to the school system was spurring record enrollment rates, thanks to his implementation of a two-year tuition freeze and full-cost financial aid packages for under-resourced students. Carter also helped secure a $92 million federal contract for Nebraska’s non-profit research institute in partnership with the Department of Defense.
Carter is no stranger to the military. He earned his bachelor’s from the U.S. Naval Academy, is a retired vice admiral and was its longest-running superintendent since the Civil War. His presidential experience extends past Nebraska into the U.S. Naval War College (R.I.).
“Academic and research excellence, increased access and greater affordability are key to his vision for Ohio State—themes we heard time and again while collecting input from the university community,” said Phillip Popovich, Ray W. Poppleton Research Designated Chair in the Department of Neuroscience in the College of Medicine, according to an Ohio State statement.
Glenda Glover – Tennessee State University
Glenda Glover, one of the nation’s most decorated HBCU leaders, is resigning from her 10-year run as the president of Tennessee State University following state pressure.
In February, Tennessee’s state comptroller recommended lawmakers push out TSU’s Board of Trustees and high-ranking administrators after an audit found the HBCU was unprepared to house students despite its massive effort to enroll more by dolling out more than $20 million in scholarships.
“TSU management, in particular, made a series of decisions that ultimately put them in this crisis,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower to a Senate Ad Hoc committee, according to Tennessee Lookout. “A crisis that was clear that they should and could have seen coming.”
Glover fought against the comptroller’s report, claiming it had misrepresented its enrollment strategy. Not all state officials were as adamant about Glover’s removal.
“President Glover has worked tirelessly for Tennessee State University for the past decade and has done a fantastic job. As TSU’s first female president, she has served with honor and distinction and has brought increased national acclaim to the University,” said Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis), according to WKRN.
Glover will step down at the end of Spring 2024.
Harry J. Elam Jr. – Occidental College (Calif.)
Harry J. Elam Jr. announced last Tuesday his retirement from Occidental College, a tenure he started in 2020. Elam was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which prompted the difficult decision.
“Please know that I am doing well, with excellent medical care and a strong support system,” he wrote in a letter to students.
Prior to Occidental College, Elam served as Stanford University’s vice president for the arts and senior vice provost for education. A dynamic leader with a strong focus on equity, Elam created a summer bridge program for under-resourced high school students called the Diversity in the Arts, and he also initiated a program to bolster the number of graduate degree seekers in STEM for students of color, according to the school website.
Jo Allen – Meredith College (N.C.)
Jo Allen, president and alumna of Meredith College, has announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2023-24 year, ending her 13-year tenure.
“Few people have the opportunity to live full circle with the closing of a career at the very place that career began to take shape. I am grateful beyond measure for all those who have helped prepare and sustain me all these years,” said Allen upon retiring.
As difficult as leading a college may have been through the pandemic, Meredith College survived without having to lay off or furlough any employees, thanks in part to a robust emergency fund pool. This asset was most likely garnered from Allen’s record-setting fundraising campaign from 2012 to 2018, which raised over $90 million and subsequent campaigns that earned the college over $10 million per year despite the pandemic.
Allen has led Meredith through extensive capital projects, including the building and renovation of a new plaza, dining and academic halls, an auditorium and athletic facilities, according to a university statement.
Nancy Cantor – Rutgers University-Newark (N.J.)
Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway announced the contract of Nancy Cantor, 10-year president of Rutgers University’s Newark campus, will not be renewed at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Despite some kind words offered by Hollway on Cantor’s tenure, state legislatures, faculty and possibly even Cantor herself are directly opposed to the decision. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka went far enough to call the decision a “grave error,” according to NorthJersey.com.
“To discard Chancellor Cantor is taking two steps backward,” Baraka wrote to Holloway. “It disrupts a long and hard-fought progress that Newark is journeying on. It flies in the face of the collective work that we have been doing many times with Chancellor Cantor’s insistence, her commitment, and sheer will.”
There is yet to be an official reason for why Rutgers isn’t renewing Cantor’s contract, according to the Gothamist. People close to her, however, say it isn’t voluntary, according to NorthJersey.com.
“I am shocked. I am upset. I considered her a colleague, for sure,” said Newark campus faculty member Paul Boxer. “This is a tremendous loss.”