To friends and colleagues who share my love for Albion College:
When I arrived at Albion in 2014, I shared my belief that “Albion – the College and the town – is filled with people who give us reason to hope.”
At the time, hope in people was the foundation for all the audacious goals we set at both the College and in the community. I embraced the mission and vision for Albion College and, together with the Board of Trustees, a wonderful leadership team, talented and dedicated faculty and staff, a creative and passionate student body and a community eager to thrive again, worked every day to achieve our goals. These goals were given direction and wings. We developed action plans and rolled up our sleeves to do the hard work required.
Working collaboratively, we have expanded and strengthened academic programs. We have created new initiatives to ensure the success of first-generation and under-represented students. We have established recruiting initiatives to grow enrollment and enhance diversity and inclusion. We have raised more than $86 million for our first-in-a-decade comprehensive campaign to fund new programs, capital projects and scholarships. We have partnered with the community of Albion on the development of downtown, which has brought us a new hotel, new restaurants and new shops, in addition to new jobs.
Over my nearly four decades in higher education, I have come to realize that liberal arts colleges work best when faculty see their work as more than a job, when staff are engaged and when students are eager to learn. There’s a certain swagger I love to see when I am on campus these days. You have only to walk through downtown Albion to see signs of all the improvements the College has supported – and there are still more to come.
As many of you know, I grew up in the Midwest and have spent the majority of my life here. When I was six, my family moved to a farm with an abandoned orchard and plot for a large garden, and I fell in love with farming. Six years later, we moved to Indiana, and I met Judi Martin in my Sunday school class and fell in love with her. Six years later, I enrolled in Wabash College as a freshman and fell in love with the liberal arts. Some people never find a great love in their life, and I’ve been fortunate to find three.
It’s been my joy to spend the last 49 years on the campus of a liberal arts college. But it’s time for my next transition – back to Indiana where I can spend more time with Judi and more time farming.
I have told the Board of Trustees that I would like to retire effective June 30, 2020. Albion College Board Chair Don Sheets ’82 has asked Trustee Mike Harrington ’85 to chair a Search Committee to identify Albion’s 17th President. That work is already underway. Albion has retained the national search firm Storbeck Pimentel & Associates to lead this process. You will be able to read more about this on our website, albion.edu, where we plan to post monthly updates.
I have also shared with the Board that my timing is flexible – if the new President is not ready to begin work on July 1, I can extend my stay. I am committed to a smooth transition process. The Board has also asked me to take on some additional projects after I retire, and I have told them I would be pleased to do so for up to the next two years. I am willing to support our next President in whatever way I can and continue to serve as an ambassador for the College I have grown to love so much.
Over the years, I have come to realize strong parallels between farming and colleges. Each fall, we get a new crop of first-year students and each spring we graduate another group of students. In between, we get close to the students and can’t imagine how we will live without their leadership, passion and verve. But each fall we get a new class of first years, and the cycle begins again. That’s the opposite with farming: in the spring you plant a new crop and in the fall you harvest. I’ve seen this rhythm play out fully on college campuses each year, but I’ve only been able to watch it in part on the farm. I’m looking forward to being in Indiana with Judi to watch the entire process unfold from start to finish in the coming years – and to returning to campus to join you from time to time.
As I reflect on this decision, I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible stories about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Remember, Moses did not complete the journey into the Promised Land. He got close enough to see the Promised Land, but it was actually Joshua who led them there. So often, with so many big projects we do that are worthwhile, we get close to the goal. For me, the joy has been in the journey. I have loved my time at Albion and, after retirement, will be watching with joy as the next President continues that journey and helps the College reach its goals.
I am deeply grateful for being invited to participate in Albion College’s journey and I am confident Albion – the College and the town – will continue to flourish because both remain filled with hope for the future.
With gratitude and joy,
Dr. Mauri A. Ditzler
President, Albion College