The longest serving president in Transylvania University's proud history is stepping aside.
Dr. Charles Shearer will retire in June of 2010 after 27 years on the job.
That surprise annoucement came at the end of Saturday's board of trustees meeting.
Dr. Shearer has seen enrollment almost double during his tenure as Transy's 24th presdient. He turns 67 next month and says he's been taking one step at a time for a long while. "This is a very difficult decision and perhaps one of the hardest I've made in my life. I've been in a job that I've loved, and to think about leaving it is difficult, but the time comes when you make that decision."
And what's the fondest memory he'll take into retirement. Shearer says, "I think it's the success of our students and watching where they go after they leave Transylvania."
Dr. Shearer says he wojuld like to remain close to the Transy students by teaching a class in micro-economics. "I started out as a college professor, and I'm an educator first. I love teaching. I love young people. I enjoy being in the classroom, and I'm comfortable in that setting."
The landscape of Kentucky's oldest university has changed dramatically in the almost three decades that Dr. Shearer has served as
Transy's president, and the crown jewel of that transformation process may well be the Beck Center. He says, "The Beck Center made a huge difference because it's also a classroom building, and it's used for a variety of activities. It's an event center, and it's been a great facility.'
A dozen other structures have gone up during Shearer's tenure, but it's his personal style of leadership that will be missed the most. Transylvania basketball coach Brian Lane, who was also a student at Transy, says, "He would eat with the students . He was there when they were checking into their dorms as freshmen. He was there shaking their hands and hugging them when they were graduating. I've grown up on this campus, and I can tell you that what he's done with the faculty and staff here has put Transylvania on the map nationally as one of the top liberal arts schools in the county."
And now he's leaving with practially no regrets. Shearer says, "As I look back, there's very little I would change.
A national search for a new president will begin soon, and if a successor is not in place by June, Charles Shearer says he would stay on into 2011 but not beyond.