Connecticut College President Leo I. Higdon Jr. announced today that he will retire from the presidency at the end of 2013.
"The time is right for me and for this College," Higdon told students, faculty and staff during an all-campus meeting today. "We will have completed our $200 million Campaign and we will have accomplished goals that we outlined when I came to Connecticut College. It will be time for a new strategic plan and a new leader to continue to advance this great institution."
In addition to leading the Campaign for Connecticut College, Higdon has made significant improvements in the College's admission profile, in the student experience and to the campus since he assumed the presidency in 2006.
"Lee Higdon has had a tremendous impact on Connecticut College," said Pamela Zilly, a 1975 graduate of the college and chair of its Board of Trustees. "He is a wonderful president who has built strong relationships with faculty, students, staff and alumni. His vision for the future has been infectious and he will leave the college well-positioned for even more great things to come."
Higdon, 66, has elevated the College's reputation with national recognition as a top producer of Fulbright Award winners and Peace Corps volunteers, a winner of the Sen. Paul A. Simon Award for Campus Internationalization and a member of the President's Community Service Honor Roll, with Distinction. He is a strong advocate of liberal arts education and is published widely on its value as the best preparation for life and career.
At Connecticut College, he has strengthened the core academic program with initiatives that foster faculty-student interaction, enhanced faculty and student diversity and infused an international perspective into every aspect of the student experience.
"President Higdon has been a superb leader of this College," said Andrea Lanoux, associate professor of Slavic Studies and chair of the Faculty Steering and Conference Committee. "He has hired many new faculty and committed significant resources to strengthening the academic program at a time when few other colleges have been able to do the same. You can feel his accomplishments when you walk across campus and talk to people: the science center, the fitness center, the academic resource center to come. He has tremendous financial acumen and unbounded energy, and he cares deeply about people and the well-being of the College. He will leave an incredible legacy."
During his presidency, Higdon has overseen a transformation of the New London campus. He led an $85-million campus improvement program that raised funds dedicated to improve and maintain the campus, including endowment funds. Some of the campus improvements include the new science center, new fitness center, and new student social spaces, as well as improvements to student residences, classrooms, athletics facilities and campus infrastructure. Additionally, under his leadership, applications reached record highs with improved selectivity, and spending on financial aid increased.
Higdon is a popular figure on campus, who regularly attends sporting events, art exhibits and student performances. He is often found chatting with students in the dining halls and social spaces.
"This community is very special to me and will always be an important part of my life. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Connecticut College," Higdon said.
Board Chair Pamela Zilly will chair the presidential search committee. Higdon will retire from the presidency on Dec. 31, 2013.