UR President Ed Ayers to step down in 2015

Posted at 2:56 PM, Feb 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-28 15:00:11-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – University of Richmond President Ed Ayers announced Friday he planned to step down from the job at the end of next school year.

“Next year is a fitting one for a university transition as we finish important work,” Ayers wrote in a statement. He said in 2015 he would conclude the University’s strategic plan known as “The Richmond Promise.”

“As I reflect on all that we have accomplished together, I have decided that these culminations provide a natural conclusion to my term as president,” he said.

The university said it would begin the search for Ayers’ replacement next school year. When Ayers steps down in June 2015, the university said he would “continue his scholarly work as a member of the University of Richmond faculty.”

“As you can imagine, the board accepted his decision with disappointment, but also with deep gratitude for his outstanding leadership over the past seven years,”
rector of the University of Richmond Board of Trustees Charles A. Ledsinger Jr. said in a statement.

The university credited the following accomplishments to Ayers and “The Richmond Promise”:

• Undergraduate applications have grown by nearly 50 percent—from approximately 6,600 for the fall 2007 entering class, to more than 9,900 for the fall 2014 entering class—while the quality of the entering class has improved by every academic measure;

• The number of U.S. students of color has increased by 114 percent in the entering class and international students have doubled, and the university has maintained and strengthened its commitment to access and affordability by doubling the number and percentage of Pell-eligible students;

• Investments in competitive faculty and staff salaries allowed the university to continue to recruit excellent new faculty even when other institutions faced challenges due to the economic downturn; among new tenure and tenure-track faculty recruited since 2008, one in four are faculty of color and half are women;

• The commitment to inclusivity is strengthened by a variety of initiatives, including the establishment of new student organizations, the Cultural Advisors program and an LGBTQ Spiders alumni group; expansion of the Common Ground staff; additions to the Chaplaincy including the university’s first campus rabbi, expanded programming for the Muslim community and a new Multifaith Student Council;

• The integration of the office of alumni relations and career development center has leveraged the worldwide web of Spiders to assist students in preparing for and securing internships and jobs;

• Progress on Phase I of the comprehensive 10-year Campus Master Plan has resulted in significant enhancements to academic facilities through the creation of the international center, business school addition and law school renovation; to student life through renovation and new construction of residence halls and construction of the Student Activity Center; to athletics facilities through the on-campus stadium and renovations to the Robins Center and intramural and sport club field space—while three historic buildings were placed on the National Register;

• Generous financial support of the Fulfilling the Promise capital campaign has funded priorities including the distinctive UR Summer Fellowships program;

• The university’s endowment has continued to be among the best performing in the nation and surpassed the $2 billion mark; even during the recent economic downturn, Standard & Poor’s raised the university’s already strong bond rating from AA to AA+; and

• The university’s connections to the city have strengthened through significantly increased numbers of community-based learning programs, endowment of Partners in the Arts and establishment of UR Downtown.