May 18, 2015
Dear Puget Sound Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Following this afternoon’s announcement from President Thomas, I write to share with you that while Ron has been in conversation with trustees over the last several months about his plans, it is with regret that the Board of Trustees formally accepted his decision at our May board meeting.
There will be many opportunities to celebrate Ron’s and Mary’s service to the university in spring of next year. Meanwhile, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what has transpired to date and look forward to our next steps together.
It is clear that Puget Sound has benefited immensely from a history of strong and stable leadership—in fact, it is rare in these times for a college president to conceive a strategic plan and see it through to its completion. It is remarkable what Puget Sound has achieved over the past dozen years under President Thomas’s energetic and forward-looking leadership as he’s worked closely with and for all of us: an inspiring faculty; amazing students; a talented staff; and a committed group of trustees, alumni, parents, and friends of the college.
Ron set out a bold and ambitious strategic vision for Puget Sound, calling for us to enhance and distinguish the Puget Sound experience, build an inspiring academic and residential environment for learning, deepen relationships with all members of our community, and strengthen our financial position during what turned out to be a very challenging time not only for higher education but for our nation’s economy. And he has succeeded far beyond what any of us might have imagined was possible back in 2003.
Puget Sound now enjoys a substantially enhanced residential campus, with the additions of Harned Hall, Commencement Walk, Weyerhaeuser Hall, Commencement Hall, and the new Athletics and Aquatics Center that is just underway. We have secured $127 million and counting in the most successful comprehensive campaign in Puget Sound’s history, raising critical funding for student financial aid, faculty sabbaticals and scholarship, endowed faculty chairs, new academic programs, annual operating support, and more. Puget Sound now has active alumni and parent volunteers—nearly 1,300 members of the Alumni and Parent councils—creating opportunities to engage Loggers far and wide, and the college has strengthened its commitment to the local community through numerous civic scholarship and community engagement opportunities.
During Ron’s tenure—“Ron Thom” to many of you!—Puget Sound also has received unprecedented national recognition: as the nation's number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers for universities its size, a top-10 producer of Fulbright Scholars, and as one of 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” to name a few. We also have achieved new heights in admission, academic achievement, retention, and fundraising in every year of Ron’s presidency. By every measure, Ron is among the most dynamic, successful, and beloved presidents in Puget Sound’s history.
On behalf of the board, we are grateful to Ron and Mary not only for the work they have done and will continue to do, but for providing us with sufficient time to conduct a national search to attract the best possible successor to Puget Sound. Trustee Robert Pohlad (parent of Chris Pohlad from the Class of 2007) has been named to lead the search committee, which will be appointed shortly and include representatives from the board, faculty, staff, and student body. Bob will then succeed me as chair of the board of trustees effective July 1, 2016. The campus community will be hearing from the committee at regular intervals during the search process and can expect additional information over the summer.
These transitions are natural and necessary in the life of any great institution, providing opportunities for continued growth and renewal. Under Ron’s leadership and with the successful realization of the objectives of our Defining Moments strategic plan, Puget Sound is well positioned to move forward and to attract another talented leader for the next chapter in our history.
Thank you for all that you do to advance and exemplify the mission of this college that means so much to us all.
Rick Brooks ’82
Chair, Board of Trustees