USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan Announces he will Step Down after 50-Year Public Higher Education Career
May 13, 2014 (Adelphi, MD) --William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University
System of Maryland (USM) since August 2002, today announced that he will step
down from his leadership position after a career spanning more than 50 years in
public higher education. At the request of the USM Board of Regents, Kirwan will
remain as chancellor until the board conducts a national search and chooses his
"I am completing my 12th year as chancellor and my 50th
year in higher education, and I have decided that this is the right time to
announce my intention to step down," Kirwan said. "It has been a tremendous
honor and privilege to lead the state of Maryland's public higher education
system. Thanks to the excellent board members and outstanding USM administrators,
faculty, staff and students with whom I have had the privilege to work, we have
accomplished a great deal. I am enormously proud of our collective efforts, and
I believe the system is poised to continue on its paths of academic excellence,
inclusion, and innovation that have become its hallmark."
"It is difficult to envision the University System of Maryland without
Brit Kirwan at the helm," said James L. Shea, chair of the USM Board of
Regents. "Under his exceptional leadership, USM has established itself as a
public higher education system focused on student success, and on service to
the state, the nation, and beyond. We are very fortunate to have had Brit as
the system's chancellor. He will be sorely missed, but he has built a strong
system that will continue to flourish."
Kirwan has had a long and distinguished career in higher education. He
has served as president of two Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions-University
of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), (1988-98) and The Ohio State University
(1998-2002). Earlier, he served as vice president of academic affairs and chair
of the Department of Mathematics at UMCP.
Guided by his long-held core belief that higher education plays a
critical role in creating a more just and inclusive society, Kirwan has
impacted the higher education landscape considerably. Common threads running
through his career include his unwavering commitment to excellence and to
increasing underrepresented minorities' access to higher education.
Among the many initiatives he has championed is Closing the Achievement
Gap. USM launched this initiative in 2007 to address the gap in college
participation, retention, and graduation rates between low-income students,
first-generation college students, and underrepresented minorities on one hand,
and the general student population on the other. USM institutions are making
notable progress in this area, with gaps reduced or eliminated at some
Thanks to programs he championed as president of UMCP, that institution
is one of the most diverse public research universities in the United States.
And as president of Ohio State, Kirwan made diversity a centerpiece of the
university's Academic Plan. When he
left Ohio State in 2002, the university added his name to its interdisciplinary
research institute dedicated to understanding racial and ethnic disparities
worldwide, now known as the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
USM's productive working relationship with Maryland's elected officials
is another testament to Kirwan's leadership. This true partnership has yielded
a strategic alignment of USM and state priorities related to higher education
affordability, student success, academic and research excellence, higher
education's role in economic and workforce development, and responsible
stewardship of resources.
For example, working together, USM and the State of Maryland have made
tuition affordability a major factor in the state's national reputation as an
education leader. As a result, the average tuition for undergraduate in-state
students at USM institutions, once the nation's sixth highest, now ranks 26th.
And Kirwan has led USM institutions to
increase need-based financial aid awarded to students, which has jumped nearly
140 percent systemwide since FY 2005.
"Brit has been an invaluable and critical
partner in our efforts to strengthen and grow our middle class by expanding
access to high-quality higher education in Maryland," said Governor Martin
O'Malley. "Here in Maryland, we're incredibly grateful to him for his
leadership in strategically aligning course offerings to spur economic
development and help close our State's 'skills gap'; his work to improve
important and essential transitions for community college students to four-year
institutions; and his efforts to help my Administration hold down the cost of
college to the lowest levels in the nation."
Under Kirwan's leadership and the Board of Regents chaired by Clifford
Kendall at the time, USM in 2003-04 launched its Effectiveness and Efficiency (E&E) Initiative to optimize USM resources and save money during a
time of burgeoning enrollment, diminishing state support, and increasing costs.
A systematic reengineering of USM's administrative and academic functions,
E&E has become a part of the system's culture, impacting everything it
does. To date, E&E has yielded more than $460 million in direct savings
through joint procurement, energy conservation and more efficient use of space
and buildings, improvements in business processes, and other actions.
Other marks of Kirwan's leadership success include:
partnerships with Maryland's community colleges to facilitate smooth transfer
of students to USM universities. The number of students transferring from the
state's community colleges to USM universities is at an all-time high.
resources focused more strategically to drive the state's economic development.
in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines, both
in terms of producing more graduates prepared to take positions in these fields
and in terms of educating the next generation of teachers in the STEM areas for
University of Maryland: MPowering
the State, a
structured collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the
University of Maryland, College Park launched in 2012. The collaboration is
leveraging resources to serve students better, increase interaction between
faculty members and researchers, and boost research, technology transfer, and
USM's six-year federated campaign (2006-2012) that raised $2.1 billion to
support scholarships, professorships, buildings, and more.
partnerships with educational systems in the K-12 sector.
USM's information campaign launched in 2008 to encourage more students to begin
preparing for college early.
Advancement of USM
regional higher education centers, which expand access to higher education
opportunities, many aligned with regional workforce needs.
Leadership in sustainability
efforts with 52 facilities constructed and/or planned as LEED-certified
"Silver" or higher.
"Dr. Kirwan has been a visionary leader at the University System of
Maryland, making a tremendous impact on education in our own state and across
the nation," said U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.). "He understands how
education is connected to jobs and the larger economy. His passion and unique
ability have been making sure Maryland has the right workforce, whether it's in
cyber-tech, bio-tech, or space-tech, for the times we live in."
"Chancellor Kirwan has been that
magic combination of great intellect, long vision, and extraordinary people
skills," said Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (Md.-5). "He led the University of Maryland, College
Park to become one of the country's great academic institutions. In the
process, he became one of America's most respected leaders and voices. I know all Marylanders join me in thanking
Brit and his wife Patty, who has been such an important partner in his and our
On the national level, Kirwan's leadership has helped to position USM as
a model public higher education system in several areas, including enhanced stewardship
of resources (especially related to the E&E Initiative) and academic
transformation. With the launch of its Course Redesign Initiative in 2006, USM
became the nation's first university system to redesign entire courses,
supported by the innovative use of technology. To further facilitate academic
transformation and excellence, the USM Board of Regents in 2012 approved the
establishment of the Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning and Teaching to develop, apply, and evaluate more ways to deliver
high-quality courses optimizing technology and other resources systemwide.
In addition, Kirwan serves on several national boards, including the
Business-Higher Education Forum. He chairs the National Research Council Board
on Higher Education and Workforce, and co-chairs the Knight Commission on
Intercollegiate Athletics and the U.S. Senate Education Committee Task Force on
Government Regulation of Higher Education.
Statewide, Kirwan serves on the boards of several organizations,
including the Greater Baltimore Committee, Economic Alliance of Greater
Baltimore, Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and the Maryland Business Roundtable
for Education. He also serves on the Governor's P-20 Leadership Council.
Among Kirwan's honors are the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for
Leadership (2010) and the Carnegie Corporation Leadership Award (2009), two of
higher education's most prestigious awards.
"Brit Kirwan is among those rare leaders who have
made a profound impact on American higher education," said Molly Corbett
Broad, president of the American
Council on Education. "He has led some of our nation's
most respected academic institutions and mentored and influenced several
generations of college and university presidents. Courageous and compassionate,
Brit has embraced the toughest and most important
issues of our time-cost, accountability, diversity, athletics-and succeeded
in forging consensus and change.
We are better as an industry-and I, personally as a leader-because of his great
"Brit Kirwan's leadership has helped reshape the landscape of public
higher education and will have a lasting impact on Maryland, Ohio, and the
whole country," said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of
Public and Land-grant Universities.
"His drive and focus to expand access to public higher education in order to
serve more underrepresented students has inspired others to join him in
tackling the toughest challenges and opportunities facing our colleges and
Kirwan received his doctoral and master's degrees from Rutgers, The
State University of New Jersey, and his bachelor's degree from the University
of Kentucky, all in mathematics.
"While I will be stepping down as chancellor," Kirwan said, "I plan to
continue to devote a major portion of my time and energies to promoting causes
that mean so much to me, including programs focused on ensuring more low-income
students have a chance to complete a college degree and on strategies using
technology to find lower-cost means of delivering high quality higher
USM Board Chair Shea within the next several weeks plans to appoint a committee
to conduct an extensive national search for USM's fourth chancellor. The
committee will comprise representatives from the system's many constituencies.
System of Maryland comprises 12
institutions-Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State
University; Salisbury University; Towson University; University of Baltimore;
University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County;
University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland Eastern Shore;
University of Maryland University College; and the University of Maryland
Center for Environmental Studies. USM also includes two regional
centers-Universities at Shady Grove and University System of Maryland at
Hagerstown-at which USM universities offer upper-division (undergraduate
junior- and senior-levels) and graduate courses.
Student enrollment systemwide exceeds 153,000. In FY 2013, USM and its
institutions competed successfully for nearly $1.2 billion in external grants
and contracts. USM institutions and programs are among the country's best in
quality and value according to several national rankings.
For more information:
Full Statements from
State and National Leaders
"Brit has been an invaluable and critical
partner in our efforts to strengthen and grow our middle class by expanding
access to high-quality higher education in Maryland. Brit's vision as
chancellor, and as a dedicated public servant, is unmatched. Here in Maryland,
we're incredibly grateful to him for his leadership in strategically aligning
course offerings to spur economic development and help close our State's
'skills gap'; his work to improve important and essential transitions for
community college students to four-year institutions; and his efforts to help
my Administration hold down the cost of college to the lowest levels in the
nation. On behalf of a very, very thankful State, we wish Brit the best, and
look forward to continuing to see his vision bear fruit in the years ahead."
--Governor Martin O'Malley, State of Maryland
"Dr. Kirwan has been a visionary
leader at the University of Maryland, making a tremendous impact on education
in our own state and across the nation. I count him as a close friend and an
advisor. Dr. Kirwan understands how education is connected to jobs and the
larger economy. His passion and unique ability has been making sure Maryland
has the right workforce, whether it's in cyber-tech, bio-tech or space-tech,
for the times we live in. I wish Dr. Kirwan and his family a terrific next
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.)
"The announcement of Brit Kirwan will be received with great regret and
deep gratitude by all who love the University System of Maryland. Chancellor
Kirwan has been that magic combination of great intellect, long vision, and
extraordinary people skills. He led the University of Maryland at College Park
to being one of the great academic institutions in our country. In the process,
he became one of America's most respected leaders and voices. We all know that
his contributions to Maryland, higher education, and our students, faculty, and
staff will not end on the day of his retirement. I know all Marylanders join me
in thanking Brit and his wife, Patty, who has been such an important partner in
his and our success, for all they have done to bring excellence and excitement
to our University System."
Steny H. Hoyer (Md.-5)
"Brit Kirwan is among those rare leaders who have
made a profound impact on American higher education. He has led some of
our nation's most respected academic institutions and mentored and influenced
several generations of college and university presidents. Courageous and
compassionate, Brit has embraced the toughest
and most important issues of our time-cost, accountability, diversity,
athletics-and succeeded in forging
consensus and change. Brit also has been a champion of teaching and
learning innovations that are at the heart of our academic mission.
We are better as an industry-and I, personally as a leader-because of his
great work. While he is stepping down from his current position I know we
will be able to count on his wisdom and counsel in the days ahead. I wish Brit
and Patty all the best as they open this newest chapter in their lives
Broad, President, American Council on Education
"Brit Kirwan's leadership has helped reshape
the landscape of public higher education and will have a lasting impact on
Maryland, Ohio, and the whole country. His drive and focus to expand
access to public higher education in order to serve more underrepresented
students has inspired others to join him in tackling the toughest challenges
and opportunities facing our colleges and universities. I know Brit will
continue to contribute to the many issues he cares about so deeply."
--Peter McPherson, President, Association of
Public and Land-grant Universities
"Charming, principled, energetic
and visionary, Brit Kirwan is the very embodiment of a great academic leader,
and he will leave very big shoes to fill. His vision reached beyond the
University System itself to touch all of higher education in
Maryland. He understood the unique role that the state’s colleges and
universities play in driving innovation and economic development, and
championed groundbreaking collaborations among Maryland’s public and
private universities and among higher education and business
leaders to ensure the continued competitiveness of our students and our
state. As chancellor, Brit has been a tremendous partner to Johns Hopkins
and I have loved working with him to advance the role of higher education
--Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University
Contact: Anne Moultrie