Susan Resneck Pierce, president of the University of Puget Sound for the past ten years, announced to the campus yesterday that she will retire from her position in fourteen months, in the summer of 2003.
In a letter to all faculty, staff and students, Pierce wrote: These last ten years have been the most satisfying, interesting, and challenging of my professional life. At the same time, my husband Ken and I are at the point where we want to spend more time together and with our families and in ways that the responsibilities of a college presidency do not permit.
She also noted, I look forward to having the time to write in a genre other than memoranda and other than on long plane rides.
Pierces record of accomplishment as Puget Sounds President over the past ten years has been truly extraordinary, said William T.Weyerhaeuser, chair of the board of trustees.
Susans leadership in advancing the universitys mission, her dedication to high academic standards and the liberal arts, her commitment to students, and her standing among national liberal arts college presidents have made an immense difference. The board believes itself fortunate to have worked with such an outstanding president and are pleased that Susan will continue to lead the University with vigor over the next year. We will miss her greatly when she leaves her post in the summer of 2003.
During the last decade, under Pierces leadership, the University of Puget Sound has secured a highly respected place among national liberal arts colleges. The University now typically attracts more than 4,000 applications for its 650 freshmen spaces. Average SAT scores have jumped from 1067 to todays 1250. In the current freshmen class, three-quarters of the students come from states other than Washington and hail from more than 500 different high schools.
The student to faculty ratio has improved from 13.3:1 in 1990 to todays 11:1. The University also has added 13 additional tenure-line positions to its faculty.
Over the last ten years, Puget Sound has nearly tripled its endowment to todays $180 million. The University has completed more than $80 million worth of campus improvements since 1995. These include new facilities such as the 50,000-square- foot new academic building, Wyatt Hall; the concert hall; the Pamplin Sports Center-Fitness Center; the 184-bed residence hall, Trimble Hall, to open this fall; new softball and baseball fields; Diversions Café, and new indoor tennis courts.
They also include the renovation of Collins Memorial Library, Jones Hall, the Norton Clapp Theatre, Wheelock Student Center, McIntyre Hall, and all campus residence halls, including the Union Avenue houses.
This summer, the University will expand Shotwell Track, improve Peyton Field, and add a concession stand and restrooms to Baker Stadium.
Pierce has also been a successful fundraiser. During this past decade, Puget Sound has received significant support from such national and regional foundations as Mellon, Luce, Starr, Kresge, Arthur Vining Davis, Gates, Murdock, Cheney, Kilworth and Fuchs. At the end of 2000, Puget Sound completed the Campaign for Puget Sound, which brought in $68.5 million, including $23 million for financial aid, exceeding its $50 million goal.
In 1994, advancing its mission as a liberal arts college, Puget Sound transferred its 800-student law school, located in downtown Tacoma, to Seattle University. The school remained in Tacoma for an additional five years and then moved to a new building on the SU campus. Puget Sound sold the buildings in which the law school was housed to the state of Washington, which has now relocated more than 350 state office workers in the significantly renovated site in downtown Tacoma.
Puget Sound dedicated the income from the proceeds of that sale to financial aid for Washington State students.
In addition to her work on campus, Pierce has been active in national educational initiatives, including the Presidents Council for the Association of Governing Boards and the Executive Committee for the Annapolis Group, an organization of national liberal arts college presidents.
She has been an active member of the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse task force on college drinking which just released a report documenting the consequences of excessive drinking on campuses and recommending actions that campuses can take to reduce these harmful consequences. She has been active in an array of cultural and civic boards.
In her letter to the campus, Pierce said, Those of you who know me well will not be surprised to learn that I look forward to the coming year as one in which we will continue, energetically and purposefully, to make progress toward achieving our goals for this decade, particularly the planning and fundraising for the new science facility.
Pierce is married to Kenneth H. Pierce, a retired CEO. Her daughter, Sasha, is an intellectual property attorney in South Florida.
Prior to coming to Puget Sound, Pierce served as academic vice president at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tulsa, and as director of the division of education programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also served as an English Professor at Ithaca College and at Princeton, and was the winner of several teaching awards.
Pierce is the author of two books and many articles on American literature. She also writes and speaks extensively about higher education. She earned her AB degree from Wellesley College, her MA at the University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, all in English.