Sam Hulbert, the longest-serving president of Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, announced his intentions to retire during a news conference held at the campus Tuesday.
"While it is a sad and emotional time for me, I know it is a decision that is best for me, my family and Rose Hulman," Hulbert said, addressing the media.
President since 1976, the 66-year-old will retire June 30, 2004. He is the school's 11th president. During his tenure, Rose Hulman has emerged as a national leader in undergraduate engineering, mathematics and science education. Hulbert is proud of the fact that, for four consecutive years now, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Rose-Hulman as the best undergraduate engineering school in the country among colleges offering a bachelor's or master's degree.
With 16 months left until his retirement, Hulbert said he looks forward to celebrating year five of Rose-Hulman being ranked as one of the best schools.
"It seems like a really good time," he said about the pending retirement. "A time when the school is so strong and can go through the process of selecting a new president."
Board of Trustees Chairman Clyde Willian described Hulbert as one of higher education's most successful leaders.
"It is said that higher education is a noble profession...Hulbert practiced it at the highest levels," Willian said of his friend and colleague. "We will miss him." He credits the success of Rose Hulman to Hulbert.
Now that Hulbert's retirement is officially pending, Willian said the search process for a new president is underway and may take as long as a year to complete.
"With a status such as Rose Hulman has, we will attract many qualified applicants," he said. Hulbert agreed, adding he's confident the right candidate to follow his vision for the school will be found.
When his retirement is official, Hulbert will have completed 28 years as the school's leader, a role he said will be hard to part with when it comes down to it. He noted he's been at the campus for 9,743 days and has 483 days remaining as president and has enjoyed everyday.
"I'll miss the students and the people -- all the people," he said.
Hulbert, a native of Adams Center, N.Y., came to Rose Hulman after serving as dean of the School of Engineering and professor of bioengineering at Tulane University. He earned a bachelor of science and a Ph.D in ceramic science from Alfred University. He's received several international honors for his educational leadership and contributions to the field of biomaterials and received honorary degrees from Clarkson and Indiana State Universities.
He and his wife, Joy, have been very active on campus. They have two sons, both whom are Rose-Hulman graduates. Hulbert's daughter is a DePauw graduate, he said, pointing out that during her time to attend college, Rose Hulman wasn't an option because it was an all male institution back then. That changed in 1995.
"The change to co-education was the highlight of my time here," he said. "It was so important to become a leader in engineering, math and science. Without going coed, we couldn't do it."
After retirement, Hulbert plans to travel with his wife and do some international teaching, maybe in England or Japan.
"I love to teach. I enjoy every minute in the classroom," he said.
Before he leaves, he'd like to see some projects completed, such as expanding the life sciences department, building a new major residence hall and adding some new programs. Also, a new million dollar plus 41-feet tall sculpture, donated by an alumnus will grace the campus before he goes.
"I'm confident that even better days are ahead for Rose-Hulman," he said.