February 29, 2016
Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons announced Monday, Feb. 29, that he plans to conclude his service as the institution's 14th president on June 30, 2017, at the end of his current contract. At that time, he will become president of Academic Search, an executive search and higher education leadership development firm.
"Marsha and I have come to this exciting and bittersweet decision with grateful hearts, terrific memories and significant pride," Lemons wrote in a letter to Susquehanna Board Chair John R. Strangfeld '75.
Susquehanna has enjoyed significant growth and development during Lemons' 16-year tenure. Accomplishments include:
· honing its identity and earning a place among national liberal arts institutions
· enrollment growth from 1,639 students to more than 2,200
· capital improvements of $125 million, including the LEED-certified Natural Sciences Center, which opened in 2010
· development and implementation of an ambitious, innovative and rigorous core curriculum that includes a study-away requirement, prompting Susquehanna's emergence as an international education leader
· increased diversity on many fronts: diversity in the student body has grown significantly; policies supporting diversity and inclusion have been adopted, and strides have been made to further diversify the faculty and staff
· completion of Susquehanna's largest fundraising campaign
· acquisition and development of key real estate, allowing for additional student housing, a Geisinger Medical Center-affiliated student health complex, and a research lab that helps to ensure the water quality of the Susquehanna River and indirectly the Chesapeake Bay
· endowment growth to more than $150 million and cash reserves of $25 million
· completion of two highly successful Middle States decennial reviews and three strategic plans
A native of Nebraska, Lemons began his higher education career in student affairs at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He also held positions at the University of Nebraska, Texas A&M University, and the University of Virginia until 1992, when, at the age of 32, he became chancellor of The University of Virginia's College at Wise. He served in that role until being named president of Susquehanna in February 2001. Like Susquehanna, UVA-Wise experienced considerable growth under Lemons' leadership.
Very active on the state and national levels, Lemons has served on the board of directors of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and was a longtime member and chair of the Committee on Professional Development for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). He has chaired the boards of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, as well as Pennsylvania Campus Compact, among others, and currently serves as vice chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors, vice chair of the NCAA's Division III Presidents Council, and co-chair of the NCAA's ad hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.
Lemons earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in physical education and health education from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1983, and a Master of Education in educational psychology and college student development from the University of Nebraska in 1985. He earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Virginia in 1991. Ten years later, the university's Curry School of Education awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2002, he received an honorary doctorate from Nebraska Wesleyan.
Lemons said he looks forward to the next 16 months, during which further progress will be made on a number of strategic initiatives to help set the stage for Susquehanna's next president.
"This is a great job and one that should attract a highly capable and talented leader. I anticipate that the campus community will be filled with the excitement that comes from such transitions just as it was 16 years ago."
The search for Lemons' successor will begin immediately. Chaired by Susquehanna Board Vice Chair Signe S. Gates '71, the search committee will include faculty, students, staff and board representatives.