This afternoon, in front of a large crowd of faculty, students and staff in the 1961 room, President Leo Higdon announced that he would be stepping down at the end of calendar year 2013.
“This was one of the very best decisions I ever made, coming to Connecticut College and I have been blessed to be your president, and hopefully to continue to be your president over the next fourteen months,” President Higdon said.
“If I let my heart speak and rule this decision, I would say you’d be carrying me out in a wheelchair and that would be it. But I think it is very important for you to understand the context for a decision like this. Because it’s not a decision that Ann and I took lightly.”
In an email to the college community immediately following his announcement, President Higdon revealed that he originally planned to tell the school a week ago after his meetings with the Board of Trustees. Hurricane Sandy and the campus closure interfered with this plan.
The college is nearing the end of its $200 million capital campaign, due to close on June 30, 2013. This means that we are entering a new phase and a new round of planning that President Higdon says takes at least twelve months. In this context, he said, “the time is right for me and for the College to begin preparing for a leadership transition.”
“Honestly, as this institution goes through its next round of planning, building on what I think is a very strong foundation that we’ve established over the last six years, it is important that it have a president who can oversee this process, put his or her stamp on that plan and be prepared to execute it. I like to think that I’m younger than my 66 years, but the reality is that I could not stay the course for the plan and for the execution,” President Higdon said.
In the next fourteen months, President Higdon plans to keep focused on what he has been doing since he arrived at the college. He will continue on the path to meeting the capital campaign goal and begin planning for the post-campaign period that the incoming president will inherit.
“There is plenty to do over the next fourteen months,” he said.
In the meantime, Pamela Zilly, Chair of the Board of Trustees and graduate of Connecticut College, will lead the presidential search, which is expected to take between nine to twelve months.
President Higdon seemed very hopeful about not only the future of the college, but the prospects for the next president. “I think without question [Pamela] is the perfect person to chair the presidential search,” Higdon said. “The legacy of any successful president is that the institution itself is so vibrant, so attractive, that things are moving in the right direction; that you attract very good people to the pool in terms of having very good choices for the next president of Connecticut College.”
President Higdon will discuss his plan for the next fourteen months and details of the leadership change with student leaders at SGA’s meeting on Thursday.