Clarion University President Whitney to Step Down in 2018

| June 6, 2017

whitney3-2-2CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion University President Dr. Karen Whitney announced Monday that she will be stepping down from the position in June 2018.

“Karen Whitney has been an outstanding advocate both for Clarion University and for the entire State System,” said Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Brogan. ”She has been a leader among the presidents, providing counsel to her colleagues throughout her tenure. Most important, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of students, committing her time and effort to ensuring Clarion provides a high-quality, high-value educational experience that prepares them for a lifetime of success.”

“President Whitney has served the university well through very difficult times in higher education — at a time when enrollments have declined nationally and funding from the state has all but diminished” said Mr. James Kifer, chairperson for the Council of Trustees. “Throughout her tenure she has put her care and concern for the students of Clarion above all else, while working diligently through a myriad of challenges.”

In an email letter to the college community, Dr. Whitney shared how she arrived at her decision, stating “I have always taken the early part of the summer to reflect upon our accomplishments and challenges as a way to chart future efforts. I continue to marvel at the accomplishments and important work that our administration, faculty and staff perform on behalf of our students, alumni and the commonwealth. It is during this time of reflection and organizing our future efforts that I have decided to make my 8th year as president my last year. Even though the Trustees and the Chancellor have asked me to remain, I have notified the Clarion University Council of Trustees as well as the system chancellor of my intention to retire from the Presidency on June 30, 2018.

I am proud of the thousands of Clarion students who have graduated over the last 8 years. I am proud of the faculty and staff who have worked to build the Clarion experience as a transformative life changing experience. We have changed and become more focused and better organized to fulfill our mission. Our successes are because of the faculty, staff and leadership of this great university. It’s the people. We have overcome many challenges while always keeping our focus on our students’ success.

As I enter my final year as president, there is still very important work to do. My priorities for the year are to enable more students to obtain more Clarion credentials; ensure academic program excellence and relevance; continue cost cutting and efficiency efforts across the university; confront major issues of campus and public concern; and of course celebrate Clarion University as part of our 150th anniversary milestone.”

President Whitney’s successor will be selected through a national search, which will begin sometime in the next academic year. The university’s Council of Trustees will appoint a search committee that will include representatives from all areas of campus, including students, faculty, staff and administration, as well as alumni and trustees. An executive search firm likely will be hired to assist with the search. The search committee will review candidates’ credentials and conduct the initial interviews before eventually submitting the names of two continuing candidates to the State System’s Board of Governors for its consideration. The Board of Governors is responsible for hiring university presidents within the state system.

Whitney, in her eighth year at Clarion University, is the longest serving president in the state system.

The announcement comes less than two months after the Clarion University Council of Trustees voted to recommend to the chancellor of the State System of Higher Education that President Whitney’s contract be extended to 2020.

Her current contract was set to expire in 2019.

While the percentage of annual enrollment decreases has declined in recent years, the Clarion University Fact Book reveals a slightly different picture on enrollment declines since 2010, indicating a total enrollment drop of over 28 percent during that time period using official enrollment figures taken at each year’s official report to the State System of Higher Education.

Enrollment declines were also reported at some other area universities and a number of factors contributed to the drop, including a shrinking population of traditional college-age students, loss of jobs in the area, economy, in addition to administrative decisions at the local level.

Total enrollment in 2010-11 was 7,315; 6,991 in 2011-12; 6,520 in 2012-13; 6,080 in 2013-14; 5,712 in 2014-15, 5,368 in 2015-16, 5,224, and 5,224 in 2016-17 for a drop of over 28 percent since 2010.

Last year Whitney was one of ten candidates selected for interviews for the position of president at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).

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