Wednesday, April 15, 2009

College President Baird Tipson Announces Retirement

Letter from President Tipson

Dear Students and Colleagues,

When I came to Washington College in the summer of 2004, I was determined to continue the remarkable progress that the College had made over the previous decade. I wanted to preside over academic innovations, co-curricular initiatives and facility enhancements that would ensure the College's success well into the 21st century. I am tremendously proud of our achievements over the past five years and convinced that, despite the current economic crisis, Washington College will continue to thrive.

At the same time that I anticipate a strong future for Washington College, I have been planning for my own. After careful consideration and in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors, I have decided to retire at the end of the next academic year. Such a schedule will allow time for a thorough search and orderly transition for my successor. Planning will begin at the upcoming meeting of the Board of Visitors and Governors, with a search committee named soon afterward.

Serving as your President has been immensely fulfilling. I will continue to devote my full energies to presiding over the College as long as I am here. I will be nearly 67 when I step down, ready to enjoy reading, writing, and perhaps volunteering in some area of higher education, in addition to spending time with my new grandson.

While I look forward to the next stage of my life, I know I will miss all of you. I expect to seize every chance in my remaining time on campus to participate in the activities—academic, athletic, and artistic—that have enriched me since my arrival. Thank you all for your ongoing efforts in support of Washington College.


Baird Tipson

Letter from Ed Nordberg

To the Members of the Washington College Community:

The accompanying letter from Baird Tipson, which announces that the coming academic year will be his final one as Washington College's 26th President, affords me the opportunity to express my gratitude and that of the Board of Visitors & Governors for the numerous contributions he has made to our College, campus and community.

Since Dr. Tipson's arrival in 2004, Washington College has attained many notable achievements, including the installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, inclusion in the Princeton Review's Guide to the Best 366 Colleges, and the launch and early success of the George Washington Book Prize. Signs of our institutional vitality continue to strengthen, despite challenging economic times. This past fall, the College welcomed its largest entering class ever with 417 new students and launched a new Presidential Fellows initiative. The number of applicants for admission next fall has more than doubled, from 2104 last year to 4484 this year. Dr. Tipson's tenure has been marked by celebration of the College's 225th Anniversary and the adoption of a new strategic plan, Toward Eminence. New academic initiatives have resulted in re-imagining the first-year experience, the addition of minors in Black Studies, Dance, and Justice, Law, and Society. The innovative Chesapeake semester launches this fall. Endowments were secured for a new faculty chair in Art and Art History, faculty development, and an investment program enabling students to test their financial acumen with real portfolios. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the College its largest federal grant ever.

Nowhere will Dr. Tipson's mark be more enduring than in his transformation of our historic campus. Starting with the development of a new campus master plan, he has guided the renovation and expansion of the Gibson Center for the Arts, the renovation and expansion of the Hodson Hall dining and student center, the construction of Chester and Sassafras Residence Halls, the construction of Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium (recognized as one of the top ten lacrosse venues in the nation), the construction of Athey Ball Park, the addition of a new research vessel and the purchase and restoration of the Patrick Henry Fellows Residence. He has laid the groundwork for the College's future expansion on the riverfront with the signing of an option to purchase five acres on the Chester River to accommodate a new boathouse, environmental laboratories, classrooms, recreational facilities and student residences.

In Chestertown and beyond, Dr. Tipson has been an engaged citizen and leader. He established the Vincent Hynson Scholarship, enabling more local minority students to attend the College. He created the President's Medal and President's Service Awards honoring citizens from the community as well as College faculty and employees. In the region, he has served as a trustee to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Mid-Shore Community Foundation, St. Martin's Ministries, the Maryland Independent College and University Association, the Independent College Fund of Maryland, and the Centennial Athletic Conference. He has established a national presence in higher education as a member of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the National Collegiate Athletic Associations' Presidents Council, and the Wye Faculty Seminar; and as a charter signatory of the President's Campus Climate Commitment and the Amethyst Initiative.

The task before us now is to find a new president worthy of the example set by Dr. Tipson. As the Board of Visitors & Governors gathers on campus April 16 - 18, we will commence the process of searching for Washington College's 27th president. Our plan is to identify and secure the services of a nationally known search consultant without delay, and to empanel a representative committee, drawn from the ranks of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and students, to conduct a search that will result in a recommendation of a candidate or candidates to the Board of Visitors & Governors sometime during the fall semester. I will ask the leadership of this committee to enter into conversations with the College community before the end of the current semester, most likely through a series of structured listening sessions where all will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on the desired qualities of our next president.

Please join me and my fellow trustees in sharing with Dr. Tipson your appreciation of the contributions he has made to ensuring the continued success of Washington College.


Edward P. Nordberg '82

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