To the Dickinson College Community:
As a follow-up to President Durden’s message, please know that it is with deep reluctance that the Board of Trustees has accepted his decision to retire as president of the college effective June 30, 2013. While it is hard to believe that almost 13 years have passed since Bill and Elke arrived in 1999, I recall very clearly the substantial goals he laid out for himself and for his leadership team when he became Dickinson’s 27th president. Those goals included: elevating Dickinson’s name recognition and prestige as a top-tier national, liberal-arts college; recapturing its history and intrinsic strengths and making these known internally and externally; developing a strong institutional identity and an accompanying leadership narrative; strengthening the operating budget; and increasing the endowment.
Given the successes in these and many other areas during the past decade, it is clear that Bill, and his team—with support and commitment from virtually the entire campus community—have indeed met and far exceeded these initial goals. Applications for admissions have nearly tripled, diversity has soared, and we now are competing with the best liberal-arts colleges in the country for students and faculty members. We continue to lead with our global education programs and sustainability has become a hallmark of the college. Perhaps most significantly, the college is on solid financial ground with a balanced budget and an endowment that—while still trailing many of our new peer group—has doubled over the past decade.
Simply put, this college could not be better positioned to move forward. There is a renewed sense of dedication to and pride in our college from alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends. With the engagement of each of these constituencies, this institution has taken charge of its destiny and is moving forward in fulfilling the vision of our founder, Dr. Benjamin Rush—to prepare young people, by means of a useful and progressive education in the liberal arts and sciences, for engaged lives of citizenship and leadership in the service of society. As a college, we will continue working with energy, creativity and a strong commitment toward this shared vision for today’s students.
It is precisely this strong commitment and pride that have positioned our college so well for the future. These very positive accomplishments of the last decade outlined above, the strong leadership team that remains in place, and a palpable momentum on campus will enable us to attract and recruit our 28th president who will take this positive trajectory and help us write the next exciting chapter of the Dickinson story.
With that in mind, I am very pleased to announce that the search process for Dickinson’s next president will be led by Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas Kalaris, class of 1976 and chief executive of Barclays Wealth. Tom already has initiated the process of organizing a presidential search committee and is committed to updating the Dickinson community periodically as we move forward in this important endeavor.
We are so fortunate that Bill and Elke’s plans allow not only for sufficient time to conduct a national search, but also a significant period of overlapping transition once a new president has been appointed. And while the Durdens, in the Benjamin Rush tradition, have made it clear that they do not want any “pomp and circumstance” surrounding their departure from campus, I know there will be many informal ways for each of us to convey our heartfelt thanks for their commitment and hard work over what will be a 14-year tenure. I know that both Bill and Elke join me in looking forward to Dickinson’s exciting future.
All the Best,
Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77
Board of Trustees
Published December 1, 2011