The Last Word

Stepping Down But Not Stepping Away

By President Richard J. Cook

cook4You may already know that I have informed the board of trustees and the College community that 2007–2008 will be my final academic year of active service as the president of Allegheny College. The decision to step down from a daily role in the life of the College was a difficult one for Terry and me, but ultimately the need to be closer to our families in Michigan and Minnesota at this time in our lives prevailed. I will join Terry as part of her firm, Lahti Search Consultants, specializing in executive searches for institutions of higher education. I also look forward to more time for research, writing, and consulting.

Since the announcement, we have been deeply touched by the outpouring of letters, e-mails, and spoken expressions of friendship and thanks from so many on campus and off . Your sentiments reconfirmed how very fortunate we are to be part of the Allegheny College family. We want to express our profound gratitude to all who have made our twelve years here so enjoyable and rewarding. But this isn’t goodbye—we have several more months of work ahead of us. And just like alumni, we intend to have a lifelong association with Allegheny and to support its mission even after we depart the campus.

The future of the College is bright. Applications for enrollment have set records once again this year, student qualifications and match with the institution have grown steadily better, geographic and ethnic diversity are strong, and Allegheny continues to achieve national recognition for the quality of its people and programs. Your generosity allowed the College to set a host of all-time fund-raising records these past several years, evidence that alumni engagement with the College and dedication to its mission have grown ever stronger. The campus itself is recapturing its historic character even as it is being upgraded to meet tomorrow’s needs, as exemplified by the Tippie Alumni Center within beautifully restored Cochran Hall. There could be no finer symbol of the vital and valued relationship between Allegheny alumni and the College.

As noted on the inside front cover of this magazine, a national search for Allegheny’s twenty-first president is under way, conducted by a search committee comprising trustees, faculty, staff , students, and alumni. One of the most experienced and respected search consultants in higher education, Shelly Storbeck of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, is guiding the search committee’s efforts.

The next president will not only preside over one of America’s finest residential liberal arts colleges but will lead it, I believe, to even greater accomplishment and distinction. I take great satisfaction in the state of the College but little credit—I have been fortunate to work with an exceptional administrative team, a superb board of trustees, and a talented and dedicated faculty and staff . They are simply the best, which is only fitting, because our students and alumni are the best: exhibiting the highest character, tremendous accomplishment, and a passionate commitment to service. It is for you and through you that Allegheny College achieves its most significant distinction.

Terry and I look forward to our remaining year at Allegheny, including our participation in Commencement, Reunion Weekend, and other gatherings of alumni and other friends of the College. We hope that one or more of these occasions will bring us into contact with you in the coming months. In the meantime, we express our profound gratitude for welcoming us into the Allegheny family so enthusiastically twelve years ago and for making our years here among the very best of our lives.

This article was featurd in the Summer 2007 issue of Allegheny Magazine.