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BREAKING NEWS: University of La Verne President Stephen Morgan Announces Retirement

February 18, 2010
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Stephen Morgan outside Founders Hall.

Stephen Morgan outside Founders Hall.

University of La Verne President Stephen C. Morgan has announced his plan to retire in the summer of 2011. His decision, which he presented in a letter to the Board of Trustees at its February 5 meeting, was made public today by Board of Trustees Chair Luis Faura in a message to the extended university community.

Morgan became the university’s 17th president in February 1985. Now in his 25th year, he has guided La Verne through fiscal challenges, growth and change to its present status as a highly respected institution of higher education with a total enrollment exceeding 8,000 students and an annual budget of $118 million.

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Faura released a copy of Morgan’s letter along with his own message, which included initial details involving a nationwide search to determine Morgan’s successor. In his letter, Morgan affirmed his decision to retire at the conclusion of his 26th year as University President.

Morgan wrote: “In June of 2011, I will turn 65 and I have long thought that will be an appropriate time for me to ‘repot’ and for the University to benefit from the fresh perspective of a new president. … It has been a high privilege for me to serve as President since 1985 and to work with you to strengthen La Verne and to fulfill its mission for the students we serve. I have a passion for La Verne and the students who pursue their education in our four colleges. We continue to educate the right students, at the right time, in the right way to assure their full participation in the professions and communities they will serve for generations to come.”

Faura’s message explained that, after having accepted Morgan’s decision, the Board acknowledged its leadership role in determining the university’s next president. In his message he provided plans detailing the start of the process, beginning with the Board’s efforts to select a recruitment firm to handle the national solicitation and assemble a list of qualified nominees.

Faura wrote: “It is solely the responsibility of the Board to select the university president, an assignment each of us sees as our most important duty. We recognize that this decision will require the utmost care and consideration, which is why the full Board has given its approval for me to establish a Presidential Search Advisory Committee to assist in this extensive process.”

That search advisory committee will review qualified applicants, conduct interviews and present the Board with selected finalists and accompanying recommendations.

Trustees Ken Calkins and Emmett Terrell will serve as co-chairs of the committee. Along with additional Board members still to be determined, the committee will also include one faculty member selected by each of the university’s four colleges (Arts & Sciences, Business & Public Management, Education & Organizational Leadership, and Law) as well as one representative each from the university’s classified staff, administrative/professional staff, Coalition for Diversity and Alumni Governing Board. Faura called for all selections to be made and confirmed by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 19. Once the committee is complete, it will meet and finalize the official job description and the search process timeline.

Dr. Morgan early in his presidency.

Dr. Morgan early in his presidency.

Faura clearly indicated in his message that Morgan will not be involved in the search for his successor. “The Trustees have asked him to continue his full efforts to the ongoing work of the presidency and to prepare for a smooth transition at the end of his term.”

In his letter to the Board, Morgan promised to maintain the effectiveness of his office and its role at the university during the remainder of his tenure at La Verne. “You have my assurance that I will continue to give my full energy to the tasks at hand as long as I have the privilege of serving as your President. I will do all that I can to prepare the way for a smooth transition to my successor.”

A Legacy of Leadership

When Steve Morgan earned his bachelor’s degree from what was then La Verne College in 1968, he became a third generation La Verne graduate, joining his mother, Ruth (Miller) Morgan (1936) and grandmother, Grace (Hileman) Miller (1914) on the alumni rolls.

At the age of 39, Morgan was unanimously approved by the Board to be the university’s president on February 11, 1985, at that time making him one of the nation’s youngest college presidents. Morgan has held the position for 25 years, five years longer than La Verne’s previous longest-serving leader, Harold Fasnacht (1948-68).

When Morgan first assumed the position, La Verne was experiencing severe financial difficulties. He quickly changed the institution’s direction, creating a set of objectives and assembling an administrative team. He sought to improve academic programs, augment and strengthen the faculty, integrate technology into the curriculum, increase the endowment, and expand both the campus and its facilities.

His efforts have helped the university through a transformational period to achieve a solid financial base and overall expansion, all while diligently seeking to maintain the values upon which the institution was founded in 1891. During his tenure he has watched the university’s undergraduate population more than double and overall enrollment – including the regional campuses and adult learning programs – surpass 8,000 students.

The university also experienced growth in its overall size. In 1999 La Verne signed an agreement with the City of Ontario and the Ontario Redevelopment Agency to establish a new campus for the College of Law on nine acres in the Ontario Civic Center Complex. In June 2005, the university closed escrow on nearly 31 acres of undeveloped land from the Metropolitan Water District as part of a partnership with the City of La Verne to establish shared athletic and recreational facilities. When combined with the adjacent Brown Property obtained in 2002, the “Campus West” site effectively doubled the size of La Verne’s main campus.

Dr. Morgan stands tall inside his office, confident that his legacy of leadership and growth will continue at the University.

Dr. Morgan stands tall inside his office, confident that his legacy of leadership and growth will continue at the University.

Another major achievement came on February 13, 2006, when the University of La Verne College of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, becoming Inland Southern California’s first ABA-approved institution.

During Morgan’s presidency, the university has upgraded science and technology infrastructure throughout the campus. It has developed distance education and online programs, enhanced the overall curriculum and promoted academic research.

Morgan has overseen numerous development and enhancement projects over the years. Major efforts include renovations to Miller Hall, Founders Hall, Woody Hall and Ortmayer Stadium; the expansion of Wilson Library and creation of the Landis Academic Center; creation of the College of Law campus in Ontario; construction of The Oaks Residence Hall; acquisition and creation of the Barkley Building and the Arts & Communications Building; renovation of the Sports Science & Athletics Pavilion (formerly known as the Super Tents); and most recently the grand opening of the 40,000-square-foot Campus Center last September.

In addition to the responsibilities of his office, Morgan is an active community member. He serves as chair of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Board of Directors, is a director for the Los Angeles County Fair Association, and is on the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges & Universities. He has been recognized as Educator of the Year by the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and has been presented the Chief Executive Officer Leadership Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s District VII.

Morgan and his wife, Ann, live in Claremont. The university’s Board of Trustees recently accepted a request made by a group of donors to rename the university’s auditorium located in Founders Hall as the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium.

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