On May 30, 2017, I will complete my current contract and twelve years as president of American University. My years in this role have been enormously rewarding, but now the time is right for the university, and for me, to begin the process of transition. Therefore, I have informed the Board of Trustees that on that date, I will step down as president. I do so filled with well-founded optimism for the future of our institution and excitement at the prospect of a new stage of my life and career.
The date of transition makes sense for the university for several important reasons. It coincides with the start of the final year of our strategic plan and completion of the current phase of the campus plan, with the opening of new residence halls and academic facilities. More generally, the condition of the university positions the institution well to conduct a search for my successor. The evidence of our accomplishments together is impressive; the many metrics and achievements that support this conclusion are too numerous to list here. Perhaps they are best summarized by the most recent Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation report that observed how, together, we have accomplished an “extremely successful” transformation, with the university “stronger, more vibrant, more relevant, and better positioned as a result of what has transpired.”
I will continue to carry out the responsibilities of the president until my final day in the position. Important work still must be done. I will focus on the ongoing implementation of our strategic plan and important recent initiatives, including our plan for greater diversity and inclusion and ensuring that our campus is safe and responsive to complaints of sexual assault. I’ll also be guiding the next budget cycle and the successful opening of facilities on the east side of campus.
Next week, Board chair Jack Cassell will share details with the university community about plans underway to lead the search for my successor. I will work with AU’s fifteenth president, the provost, vice presidents, and others to ensure an effective and smooth transition.
When I leave the office, I will take a sabbatical leave and prepare myself to return to the faculty and engage in the work that attracted me to the academy. I also will continue to engage in the ongoing and critical national dialogue on the future of higher education.
Words cannot properly convey the respect and gratitude I have for the people—faculty, staff, students, alumni, members of the President’s Council, and a dedicated and supportive Board—who made this remarkable institution what it is today. I hope to express those sentiments in person to as many as I can over the coming months. In the meantime, I will simply offer my sincere thanks for the privilege of working with you to advance the mission and goals of our university.
View the Board of Trustees' response and the related news story about President Kerwin stepping down.
AU's strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World, outlines goals and objectives for the next decade at American University. Visit american.edu/strategicplan for more information. (myAU.american.edu login required for some documents)