July 15, 2018 | ° F

McCormick to step down after next year

University President Richard L. McCormick announced his plans to resign after the 2011-2012 academic school year today at a press conference in Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus.

McCormick, who assumed the presidency in 2002, looks forward to spending more time with his wife Joan and 17-month-old Katie after stepping down and joining the faculty as a professor of American political history.

But in his last year, McCormick has three major initiatives he hopes to accomplish. The University is halfway to its $1 billion fundraising campaign, which McCormick hopes to achieve before he leaves. He will also seek to carry out the recommendations of the task force report issued by the Kean Commission on Higher Education.

"It's a platform to stand on in Trenton," McCormick said. "It's the manifesto we've been waiting for, and it gives us our chance as a University. But the greatest universities on the planet are responsible for themselves. Achievement of our dreams is on us, not politics."

Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement that he looks forward to seeing the report's recommendations take shape next year.

"I wish Dick McCormick well and I look forward to working with him over the course of the next academic year as we continue implementing the recommendations of the Kean Commission on Higher Education," he said.

The biggest recommendation in the report was a merger between the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Medical School and the University, which McCormick and former Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski were working on together.

Furmanski recently stepped down from his position and will take a yearlong sabbatical from the University before returning to the faculty.

"He will be a loss," McCormick said. "He has chosen to step down for a richly deserved sabbatical for cell and molecular biology and teaching."

 McCormick's third goal is to get a bond issue on the ballot in 2012.

"We need to expand and improve facilities which is evident around campus and throughout the state," he said. "There's just three things, not 9, so I think we can do it," he said.

At the conference, McCormick said his proudest moment as president of the University was the reorganization of the campuses.

"It was a two-year-long process and old ways die hard," McCormick said. "There was a lot of conversation, but it positioned us as the flagship campus."

McCormick said he regrets not working on the appearance of College Avenue.

"The main street in the heartland of our campus should look prettier," he said.

While McCormick has made some positive achievements for the University in the last year, he was asked if the negative headlines contributed to his decision for leaving.

"Headlines are written and I'm in the public eye, but I come into work the next day and move on," he said. "As Joan and I discussed our own time frame and terms, we began talking about this more than a year ago."

McCormick thinks the University handled itself well despite any negative press, like that from the student study-in earlier this month, he said.

"I take enormous amount of pride in how we handled headlines," McCormick said. "The students who occupied my office were well behaved and courteous and best of all, left my office after 36 hours. This place has a long history of dealing with these things."

 While McCormick's new salary as a faculty member will have a substantial reduction from his presidential salary, he will be the highest paid professor earning $335,000 annually.

Board of Governors Chair Dr. Ralph Izzo said the Board of Governors is happy with the decision for McCormick's salary.

"We're comfortable with the decision as it was in the provisions made in his hiring agreement," Izzo said. "We're looking forward to his continued scholarship at the University."

The Board of Governors will meet in June to discuss the search for a new president, and Izzo is pleased McCormick gave them a year to complete the search.

"The Board of Governors is eager to work with [McCormick] in this next year," he said. "Dick has made major initiatives for our past, present and future students."

Amy Rowe

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