President James Scanlonâ€™s announcement during his faculty â€œthank-youâ€ reception Friday morning of his decision to retire silenced the room, said Public Relations and Marketing Director Kristy Hill.
The silence was immediately replaced with a standing ovation, Hill said.
Scanlon first disclosed his plans to retire, effective June 30, 2008, during a closed session at the Board of Governors meeting on Thursday night.
â€œIt has been a very emotional two days,â€ Scanlon told reporters at a press conference on Friday afternoon, as his voice cracked with emotion. â€œ[Today] has been a day of tears and hugs.â€
According to a press release, Scanlon will be turning 65 in October of 2008. He said he has been working through his decision for a few months, and although it was not an easy one to make, he knows it is time.
Scanlon began his duties as president of Western in March of 2001, succeeding President Janet Murphy. He has been a driving force behind many changes at Western in that time, not the least of which was attaining university designation in 2005.
â€œCertainly among the things that I think are very important â€“ itâ€™s not my achievement; itâ€™s the studentâ€™s achievement â€“ is university designation, which in my view simply gave us the name we had deserved for some time,â€ Scanlon said.
He also said that he is very satisfied with the way in which Western has enhanced its connection with the community, citing its role in strengthening economic and cultural development in the region. In addition, he said he is proud that the campus community has extended itself to serve a good greater than its own through community volunteerism:
â€œParticularly, to serve the needs of people who have needs that if people like us donâ€™t serve them, they donâ€™t get served,â€ Scanlon said.
Serving the good of the many, such as through food banks, is something Scanlon is certain he will continue to do after retirement, when he and his wife Lauren move to their home in North Carolina. That dedication is no surprise for Dan Nicoson, vice president for University Advancement.
â€œPresident Scanlon is a man of great integrity,â€ Nicoson said. â€œHe is unwavering in his commitment to quality, applied learning, community partnership and ethical practices. Working with him is a rewarding experience.â€
Scanlon said that there is always unfinished business upon retirement. In particular, the $30 million out of the Lewis and Clark Initiative for renovations at Agenstein Hall has passed the Senate and will now need approval from the House of Representatives, as well as Gov. Matt Bluntâ€™s signature before it becomes law. If passed, Scanlon said he believes it will take at least two years to complete the renovations and hopes to be invited back when it is done.
The Strategic Plan is in its final stages, and over 400 people from Western and the community have helped develop it, Scanlon said.
â€œThe campus has a sense of direction, and whoever becomes the next president here, she or he is very fortunate because they come into a campus that knows what it is and knows where it wants to go,â€ he said.
The search for a new president will is the responsibility of the Board of Governors.
â€œWe appreciate Dr. Scanlonâ€™s leadership and vision over the past several years; he will be missed,â€ said Janet Leachman, chair of the Board of Governors. â€œOver the next few months, the Board of Governors will begin the search process for the next president.â€
As for Scanlonâ€™s retirement plans, he said that he is an English professor. And like most, he plans to write books. However, he plans to break the mold just a little. Although Shakespeare and the Renaissance are his areas of expertise, he wants to write some mysteries.
â€œThey may only be read by my wife or perhaps my wife and a few neighbors, but weâ€™ll see,â€ Scanlon said.