Jeanna and I have been blessed with opportunities far beyond our dreams and we believe that this is the appropriate time to open the door for new leaders at Samford.
Forty-five years ago today, August 28, 1975, I attended my first class as a college freshman. As a first-generation college student, I was confused and anxious—and with no idea that, as my career unfolded, I would remain within the mysterious world of higher education for a lifetime.
Yesterday morning I advised the members of our Board of Trustees that I will be retiring from the Samford presidency, effective June 30, 2021. Including our 15 years at Samford, Jeanna and I will have served more than 23 years in presidencies at two universities. Our careers in higher education now span more than four decades. We have been blessed with opportunities far beyond our dreams and we believe that this is the appropriate time to open the door for new leaders at Samford.
For a 63-year-old, my health is good, but I will admit that this retirement decision is heavily influenced by two memories. First, my father died at the age of 66, unexpectedly. Second, my predecessor at Samford, Tom Corts, died unexpectedly at the age of 67. As we know, every day is a gift; we take nothing for granted. With whatever time that remains to me, I want the days to be filled with long hours for family and friends, productive labor, and—especially—support for Samford. The trustees have previously indicated to me that they would like for me to serve, after retirement, in a part-time capacity as Executive Director of the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, following a break from the campus next fall, so my involvement with Samford will not come to a screeching halt. In addition, I want to read and write and consult and travel—and have an enormous amount of pure fun. We will soon purchase a house and take up permanent residence in the Birmingham area. Our plans will unfold with more clarity over the next few months.
The Board of Trustees will soon launch a search for a new president and I am absolutely confident that the trustees will make a wise, thoughtful, God-honoring choice. Jeanna and I will be first in line to offer our support. The trustees will bring great wisdom to the discerning process of accomplishing the goals of both continuity and change.
Mountains of work must be accomplished this fall and next spring and I’ll be fully engaged in wrapping up as many details as possible, prior to the arrival of a new president in the summer. A lame duck doesn’t fly very well, but he can still waddle. Not that I have all—or even most—of the answers to our questions about operating during a global pandemic, but I will be here throughout all the challenges and opportunities we will confront this year, right up until June 30, or a few days longer if the new president can’t be in place by that time.
I’ve recorded a brief video. You may access it here.
Plenty of time remains for us to find the words to say how much we love you. We’ll do that in the months to come. In the meantime, I still have a lot of waddling to do.
I’ve said so often that, despite my many flaws, I am a better person because of my association with Samford. Jeanna and I agree that serving here is the greatest honor of our lives.
All the best to each of you—
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