News from the Hilltop
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Birmingham-Southern College President David Pollick steps down, Board of Trustees makes other major announcements at called meeting
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-The Birmingham-Southern College Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President Dr. David Pollick today as the institution's 12th president effective immediately.
The full Board of Trustees met on the BSC campus for an overview and discussion of the events that have transpired since April concerning the college's finances.
Dowd Ritter, chair of the board and a 1969 Birmingham-Southern graduate, announced that current BSC Provost Dr. Mark Schantz will serve as interim president while a national search is under way for a replacement for Pollick.
In resigning, Pollick issued the following statement to the Board:
"College presidents and boards must be singularly and uncompromisingly committed to one overarching value-the welfare of the students through securing the health and destiny of their college. The recently emerging financial crisis and necessary budget decisions at the college require that the faculty, board, alumni, and students be immediately and totally focused on the future and all that now requires. I have concluded that the focus is presently on me and not on the creative and constructive process that must rapidly take place in order to protect Birmingham-Southern's future. Out of respect for our community and my dreams for this wonderful college, following deep reflection, it is not without significant hesitation and considerable sorrow that I have concluded that the essential healing and creative process will proceed more rapidly if I step aside as president at this time."
Ritter said that the Board of Trustees understood and appreciated Pollick's position.
"The entire Birmingham-Southern community appreciates the many positive things that David brought to Birmingham-Southern," Ritter said. "David brought a vision to grow the college in size and national stature that resulted in an increase in our first-year and overall enrollments, and in a significant restructuring of the fundraising operations that resulted in the successful completion of Phase I of the Destiny: Delivered campaign.
"Birmingham-Southern will build upon these accomplishments as we confront the current challenges we face and ultimately, without a doubt, continue to deliver the outstanding and world-changing educational experience for which we have been known the past 154 years. We all wish David and Karen only the best as they enter the next phase of their lives."
Ritter announced the formation of a Presidential Search Committee to be headed by Dr. Wayne Killion Jr., vice chair of the BSC Board of Trustees and president and chief executive officer of Shook & Fletcher Insulation Co. in Birmingham. Killion received his bachelor's degree in biology in 1972 and his Master of Arts in Public and Private Management in 1996, both from Birmingham-Southern. The Presidential Search Committee will select and employ a search firm, interview potential candidates, recommend two to three finalists to be interviewed by a much broader group, and then recommend the finalist to the full Board of Trustees who will select the next president to lead Birmingham-Southern College.
Schantz, who became the college's chief academic officer in June 2009, begins his duties as interim president immediately. He previously had served as associate provost for engaged learning, director of the Odyssey Program, and professor of history at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. While at Hendrix, Schantz led the Odyssey Program from its inception in 2005. A component of the curriculum at Hendrix, Odyssey is a pioneering effort that focuses on engaged learning by encouraging students to embark on educational adventures that are personalized to their own interests and abilities.
He joined the Hendrix faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor and also served as chair of both the Department of History and the Social Science Area.
The Washington, D.C., native received his bachelor's degree in history Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University, his master's in divinity from Yale University, and his doctorate in history from Emory University. He completed the Management Development Program in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University in summer 2007.
Dr. Kathleen Rossmann, associate professor of economics and associate dean of First Year Programs at BSC, was named interim provost. Rossmann, who joined the BSC faculty in 1998, received her master's and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado and her bachelor's in economics from Furman University.
Following the Pollick announcement, the Board of Trustees heard a full overview of the events surrounding the college's finances that led recently to the announcement of more than $10 million in budget cuts, including staff layoffs, reductions in salaries and benefits, and the elimination of five majors and 29 faculty over the next year. Following a discussion of the situation, the Trustees issued the following statement.
Ritter also announced that James Stephens, current chair of the Executive Committee and past chair of the BSC Board of Trustees and chair of the board of EBSCO Industries in Birmingham, has been asked to lead a thorough review of governance at Birmingham-Southern.
"The sheer size of the Board of Trustees with 61 members and the massive committee structure with 12 committees is indicative of a need for a review of best practices today in governance of colleges," said Ritter. "We as a college and as trustees should learn from these lessons and never allow this to happen again."
Ritter also said that he had accepted the offer of BSC Trustee Bishop Will Willimon to have leaders in United Methodist higher education visit Birmingham-Southern in the early fall to assist in reviewing the college's governance, financial procedures, and overall structure. Willimon also offered to ask the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to provide to the college an experienced consultant in higher education funding. Willimon currently is Bishop of the Birmingham Area of the United Methodist Church.