Lawrence University President Jill Beck announced Thursday (2/2) that she plans to retire in June 2013 after nine years as Lawrence’s president.

Beck, the first woman president in Lawrence’s history, became the college’s 15th president in July 2004.

Lawrence University President Jill Beck

“I think much has been accomplished over the past eight years,” said Beck. “Certainly I see a campus physically transformed, a faculty that has grown in number and a student body that is more diverse. There have been enhancements to the curriculum including Senior Experience, dance studies and the expansion of the film studies program with a focus on film production. There are greatly increased opportunities for student internships and research experiences to support our students’ transition from Lawrence into their future lives.”

Terry Franke, chair of the Board of Trustees, said finding President Beck’s successor would be a significant challenge.

“President Beck has helped Lawrence achieve a position of great strength,” said Franke. “She was a stellar fund raiser, leading the recently completed More Light! campaign to great success despite a troubled economy—exceeding the $150 million goal by more than $10 million. During her tenure Lawrence made significant investments in the physical plant in Appleton and in Door County, including the construction of the Warch Campus Center, significant renovations of the Memorial Chapel, Memorial Hall, the Wellness Center and residence halls; plus an expansion of the Björklunden lodge and the addition of a wind turbine on the northern campus. She led these initiatives without incurring any debt. In addition, she championed new academic initiatives such as the Lawrence Fellows program and LU-R1, which provides prestigious off-campus research opportunities for undergraduate science majors. Lawrence also has an expanded Career Center, is greener and boasts an enhanced wellness program. There is no doubt that Lawrence is well positioned for the future thanks to President Beck’s leadership.”

Franke credited Beck for timing her retirement in a manner that provides the Board of Trustees with a generous timeframe to plan and execute the search for Lawrence’s 16th president. He added that Trustee Dale Schuh, the chair, CEO, and president of Sentry Insurance and a Lawrence alumnus, would lead the presidential search committee.

“The board has already started the lengthy process to select a new leader and is looking forward to this important work,” said Franke. “Our goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Beck said the next 17 months would be busy ones as she focuses on several priorities aimed at maintaining Lawrence’s strong momentum.

“I will work with the economics faculty and their interdisciplinary colleagues on their initiative in Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Beck said. “In addition I will direct energies toward the completion of the renovation of the former Downer Commons as a center for film studies and as the new home of Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni and Constituency Engagement. Certainly other priorities will come to the forefront this year and next, as I work with Director of Athletics Mike Szkodzinski and other members of the high-achieving Lawrence community.”

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Beck received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Clark University, a master’s degree in history from McGill University and a Ph.D. in theatre from the City University of New York.

In 2009, Forbes.com called Beck a “barrier breaker,” one of 15 female college presidents on Forbes’ list of America’s 50 Best Colleges.

An interactive phonecast with President Beck and Lawrence Board of Trustees Chair Terry Franke will be held on Thursday, March 1 at noon. Details for participating will be forthcoming.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.