Over the past few months Jay and I have struggled with what, for us, has been a very big decision. That struggle has centered on when is the right time (for the College and for us) for me to step down as president of Meredith. In my last contract, I agreed to add an additional year to my service because I thought there were projects that needed my continued attention and support – the apartment construction and opening; the development of the palazzo in Italy, SACS reaffirmation, the School of Business accreditation, and a new strategic plan.
The Executive Committee of the Board asked me to make a decision this January about whether I would add another year to my contract. After much thought, I have decided that 2010-2011 will be my last year as the president of Meredith College. This 18-month window gives me the opportunity to finish our work with SACS, to lead the campus in the next strategic plan, and to bring in the next two budget years with planned surpluses. That same window allows the Board to plan thoughtfully for a presidential transition – and to be able to select a president with the skills needed to lead the College forward using the vision and strategic plan they approve.
Although it is clear to Jay and me that this is the right decision – it does not make it easier or less emotional. I have worked at Meredith longer than I have worked anywhere in my life – and I am more professionally, personally, and emotionally tied here than to any place in my life. It has been a joy to serve Meredith – especially Meredith students and alumnae.
I am sure that the Meredith marketing team will do their best to tell the media all I have accomplished in my tenure here (and to boost my ego in the process). I must say, in all honesty, that whatever we have accomplished at Meredith in the past 11 years has been a team effort. I have been blessed with a husband who has worked as hard as I have for Meredith; with a Senior Management Team whose members are remarkable and who represent both superlative skills in their fields and a much-appreciated ability to understand the big picture; with leadership within our faculty, staff and students who almost always rise to the challenge of doing what is best for the College; with alumnae and friends of the College who show their trust and love by giving generously of their time, resources and advice; and, finally, with a Board of Trustees who cares passionately about this College and about governing with integrity.
In 1819 in the U.S. Supreme Court, Daniel Webster defended his alma mater, Dartmouth College, in a landmark case for American higher education. He argued for the College against a New Hampshire law that placed the private college under state control. In his statement, Webster told Chief Justice John Marshall “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those of us who love it.” Webster spoke with emotion (and with impeccable legal reasoning) – and 191 years later, I echo his emotion. There are many who love Meredith College – and I am proud to be in that number.
I look forward to continuing to serve and support Meredith in the next 18 months and beyond my retirement.
Maureen A. Hartford
President, Meredith College
Date Submitted: 2010-02-08
Fax: (919) 760-8330