The following is the text of a letter that Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan sent to the University of Maryland community Tuesday afternoon, publicly announcing his retirement after 50 years in higher education and 12 years leading the University System of Maryland.
May 13, 2014
After much thought and reflection, I have decided that the time is right to step down from my position as chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM). I informed the USM Board of Regents of my decision last week. Chairman Jim Shea and the board members requested that I remain as chancellor until they conduct a search and name a successor.
This has been a very difficult decision for me because I value so much the opportunity to work on behalf of USM and its 12 institutions. While my energy and passion for serving the system remain unabated, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that it is time for me to pass the baton on to new leadership and devote my energies to my family and to a few causes about which I care so deeply.
This year marks my 50th in higher education and 12th as chancellor of USM. Each stage of my career — faculty member, administrator, university president — brought its own unique joy and sense of accomplishment. But it has been the 12 years as USM chancellor that have truly been the capstone of my career. What we have been able to accomplish together in terms of access, affordability, and excellence has been notable. We have responded so effectively and well to the needs of our students, the demands of the workplace, and the priorities of our state.
Working together, we have taken the USM — which already stood as a national leader in higher education — and made it into a national model. In area after area, our collective impact is worthy of note:
■ Advancing the quality of our institutions while setting a national standard for maintaining the affordability of our programs;
■ Returning to an emphasis on financial aid based on need;
■ Aggressively working to overcome the student achievement gap;
■ Increasing the state of Maryland’s competitiveness through the research and entrepreneurial talents of our faculty, staff and students;
■ Developing and implementing our remarkable Effectiveness and Efficiency (E&E) initiative, which has saved more than $460 million to date;
■ Becoming a national leader in environmental sustainability;
■ Leading the way for the nation in academic innovation;
■ Supporting college completion, especially for low-income and underrepresented populations.
In each and every case, it is the outstanding administrators, faculty, staff, and students comprising our wonderful community, and the many alumni and other friends who support our mission of teaching, research, and service that have made these successes possible.
Chairman Shea and the board will soon appoint a committee to conduct a search for USM’s fourth chancellor. As the search progresses during the next several months, I will continue to work to advance Maryland’s higher education agenda. And as I thank you for your dedication and commitment, I assure you that I will let my successor know that you will be among his/her greatest assets.
I am deeply grateful for the honor and privilege of serving as chancellor of the University System of Maryland and in the coming months look forward to thanking as many of you as I can for the support you have given me and for the privilege of being your colleague over these many years.
William E. Kirwan