After five years of service to Millersville University, President John Anderson surprised much of the campus community last week when he announced he would be retiring in March 2018.
In 2012, Dr. Anderson became the 14th President of the University. During his time here he established the strategic plan ‘Our Bold Path,’ which encompassed three strategic goals for the school: engaging learners, ensuring success, and embracing agility.
Long term, his personal goals for the university reflected his deep concern about environmental issues. Dr. Anderson worked to increase sustainability through projects including the completion of the campus’s first net-zero energy building, the Lombardo Welcome Center, and moving Millersville toward being a carbon neutral university.
Beyond sustainability, Dr. Anderson also made a large push for establishing programs tailored toward non-traditional learners, increasing the use of technology in the classroom, and growing our international student population.
Dr. Anderson says his decision was a difficult one. Unlike his departure from Alfred College, his previous place of employment, he says leaving Millersville was an issue of timing. He says that when he left Alfred he felt he had done all he could to improve the school.
While Dr. Anderson acknowledges there is much left to be done here he says this was the right time for him to leave. For him, the timing was both personal and professional.
On the professional level, Dr. Anderson specifically mentioned the Capitol Campaign Feasibility Study that will begin in a few years to help map out the next strategic plan as well as establish fundraising for the university. He felt retirement during that time, while possible, would be disruptive at a time when a consistent leader would be better. Leaving right before this campaign starts would be a good transition point because if he had stayed to start it he would have wanted to stay until the end. Knowing that he would be retire before that time he felt it was better to leave now.
At the time of his retirement, Dr. Anderson would have put in a cumulative 44 years of service to the world of education, which he believed to be more than even he initially expected. Beyond timing, his decision to retire was also impacted by family.
“These jobs take up a lot of your time,” Dr. Anderson says. “Very few weekends do you have free or evenings, and I am not complaining about that, but that’s just the reality about it. I enjoy it though.”
While he always enjoyed the interactions with students, dinners with organizations, and many other things the president would do for the university, he felt it was time to put his family at the forefront again and spend his time in retirement focusing on traveling and enjoying the things a president cannot always do.
When addressing his plans after retirement, he stated he would be going backpacking with his daughter for a few weeks on the West Coast, followed by several cross-country road trips.
“As president, you can’t just take a few weeks to travel,” Dr. Anderson joked. He stated that while he still will consult and help with several education projects, he would take the time to focus on family and do all the things he was unable to during his time at the various universities.
During the presidential search, Dr. Anderson will have very little involvement, primarily assisting with transition come next spring. He stated that the process to find a new president is very extensive and time consuming, however he felt positive about the direction in which the university currently was moving.
While he is excited for retirement, he did also express his sadness to leave the students. He said the part he would miss most was interacting with the students and community and watching all the success.
While the campus still has one final year with Dr. Anderson before his retirement, he reflected that, “seeing the dreams come to life and to watch all the accomplishments of our students and faculty will definitely be what I will miss most.”
While the search for the next Millersville University president begins, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to begin to present dialogue on what they hope to see in the school’s future, as well as help to shape this final year under the presidency of Dr. John M. Anderson.