In an emotional speech, President Thomas J. Haas announced he will retire effective June 30, 2019.
Haas made the announcement February 28 in the Haas Center for Performing Arts before faculty and staff members, and members of Student Senate.
"I don't want to sound like this is a goodbye," he said. "I'm announcing my retirement now so the board has the best opportunity to find the right candidate for the next phase of Grand Valley's continued growth in quality and its stature. We have a culture that nurtures innovation with excellence, and that will continue."
Haas, 66, became the university’s fourth president in 2006 and has led Grand Valley through a steady period of managed growth and success.
Photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker
President Thomas J. Haas returns to his seat after announcing that he will retire in 2019.
He has consistently credited his wife, Marcia, for her support of him and the university, and he has always led with the idea that students come first.
John C. Kennedy, chair of the Board of Trustees, said Haas has brought a wonderful mix of experiences to Grand Valley and the university has certainly prospered under his leadership. Kennedy then thanked Haas using a Coast Guard analogy.
"Certainly, if you look at the many accomplishments of Tom, when he said, 'Leave the unit better than when you found it,' I think you clearly have," Kennedy said.
Under Haas' leadership, Grand Valley has added 30 undergraduate programs and 16 graduate programs. It opened the Detroit Center and has added 2.5 million square feet in buildings. Haas has positioned the university as a leader in sustainability with 21 LEED silver, gold or platinum buildings.
Jonathan Bowman, president of Student Senate, said when he heard the announcement he couldn't imagine Grand Valley without Haas.
"Then I realized that President Haas will never, truly leave Grand Valley, and that's the cool thing about a Laker Effect, it never ends," Bowman said. "He has impacted this university in such a profound way that we will always have a piece of him here, even after he leaves.
The Board of Trustees will serve as the search committee to select Grand Valley's fifth president. Kennedy will chair the search committee, and Matthew E. McLogan, vice president for University Relations, will serve as staff to the Presidential Search Committee. An executive search firm will be hired to assist in locating well-qualified and diverse candidates.
The board will appoint an advisory committee that will consist of trustees Kennedy, Mary Kramer, Megan S. Sall and Kate Pew Wolters, and 11 others who are members of Grand Valley's faculty and staff, and one representative each from the Student Senate, alumni and the general public.
The Presidential Search Advisory Committee, assisted by the search firm and staff, will solicit comments from the university community and public constituencies on the needs for Grand Valley and the qualifications for the next president.
After a break following his retirement, Haas will return to the classroom at Grand Valley as a professor of chemistry.