This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Delaware County Daily Times‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — After what will be seven years, West Chester University President Greg Weisenstein announced on Thursday that he will retire at the end of March.
The news came during Weisenstein’s annual State of the University address in front of staff, professors and students.
“It was a very difficult decision, but it’s the right time for the university and for me,” Weisenstein said. “The university is getting close to the top of its game. We have record enrollments, record enrollment demand and record giving to the institution. We have a great group of young leaders emerging at the university. If there’s ever a good time for a presidential transition at a university, this is a good time for West Chester.”
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Since Weisenstein became president of the university in 2009, enrollment increased 20 percent, from 13,621 students to 16,609. The rise in enrollment made West Chester University the largest university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the fourth largest in southeastern portion of the state.
For the Fall 2015 semester, more than 14,000 students applied for the 2,300 available freshmen spots.
During Weisenstein’s tenure as president, over a dozen new academic programs have been added, including West Chester’s first doctoral degrees in nursing, public administration and education.
Philanthropic support also increased since 2009, now exceeding $4 million and putting the university among the highest of public institutions of the same type.
“As chair of the council and an alumnus of this great institution, I appreciate (Weisenstein’s) far-reaching impact on West Chester University,” said Council of Trustees Chair Thomas Fillippo in a press release. “Under his leadership, the university achieved new heights as one of America’s great comprehensive public universities.”
During the beginning of Weisenstein’s address, he hinted at his retirement before officially announcing it.
“Nothing in life stays the same, as much as we would like it to, especially when we believe everything is going pretty well,” he said in his address. “We grow older, expectations change and new ideas emerge that we must infuse into our thinking and actions. Change can produce stress and disrupt our lives. While we can’t stop change, we can intelligently respond to change and shape our future through planning and working together.”
Though there have been rumors circulating around of his retirement, nothing was made official until the address.
To Weisenstein, announcing the news does feel like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
“I think to be able to share that with people and then to begin planning for the transition and the future is important,” he said. “People were talking with me about things they wanted me to engaged in in a year or 18 months from now and it was very difficult to say (to them) to put that on hold. Now, everybody understands.”
Though the semester has already begun, Weisenstein planned to wait until he did for the announcement for specific reasons.
“I wanted to wait until six months before I actually leave because that gives the university time to plan and it also shortens the period of time that I’m a lame duck on campus,” he said.
He planned the news to be about halfway through his speech, which seemed to have caught some off guard in the audience.
“West Chester University is a hard place to leave, whether you’re a student, faculty member, stay employee or an administrator,” Weisenstein said during his address. “This is especially the case for me…it’s time to talk about the future. (Sandra and I) have decided that it is time to move on to the next stage in our lives and begin to empty our bucket lists.”
Weisenstein’s last day as president of the university will be March 31, 2016. No timeline has currently been set for a new president to be named.
“I want to thank everyone for making the last six and a half years an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for both Sandra and me,” Weisenstein said to the audience. “We can all be proud of our many accomplishments over the last several years, but most of all, Sandra and I feel very privileged to have worked with what we believe is one of the finest campus communities in the country.”