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Longtime Faculty Dean Clark Ross Will Step Down Next July 1

Clark Ross, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Davidson for the past 15 years, announced today that he will retire from that position at the end of this school year, with intentions of rejoining the economics faculty following a year's sabbatical. Here is the text of Dean Ross's message:

To the Davidson College Community:

Clark Ross
Clark Ross

By all accounts this 2012-13 academic year has begun most successfully. This year marks my fifteenth year serving as your Vice President for Academic Affairs. While I continue to be very excited about the opportunities and challenges before us, I have also been reflecting on what is best for Davidson College in the present and what is the appropriate role for me in the future. For reasons detailed below, I have concluded that this should be my final year as the VPAA. Earlier in September, I conveyed this decision to President Quillen.

While institutions do benefit from stability in leadership, all institutions, from time to time, also benefit from changes in leadership. With new leadership comes a fresh look at the institution; new ideas can be advanced and assessed; existing practices can be scrutinized and affirmed or changed. I sincerely believe that this is the appropriate time for us to initiate such a process of renewal in Academic Affairs. As President Quillen continues to work with the community to articulate our objectives and goals, and then to direct a fundraising effort, she needs to have a VPAA who is prepared to support this work for several years into the future-- further suggesting that this year is appropriate to make a change in academic leadership.

At the age of 62, I am eager to have that sabbatical which I intended to take fifteen years ago, in the fall of 1998. Following this year-long leave, I look forward to resuming a more participatory role in the life of the economics department. Also, I have conveyed to President Quillen my eagerness to offer whatever assistance I can with upcoming fundraising efforts. I am very eager to do my part to support her and the campaign team in our efforts to achieve our aspirations for Davidson College.

I have been truly honored to serve as the VPAA during the past fifteen years. I am indebted to so many people for their support and kindness during this time. While I am unable in a missive of this nature to recognize all whom I wish to thank, I would like to especially convey gratitude to the following:

  • The four fine Presidents with whom I have worked: Bobby (Vagt) who had the confidence to hire me and with whom I had the privilege to work for nine of these years; Tom (Ross) who encouraged us to look to our academic future; John (Kuykendall) who is simply John and will never stop giving, serving and helping; and finally Carol (Quillen) whose ideas, aspirations and energy foreshadow a marvelous future for us.
  • The selfless and dedicated members of our Board of Trustees who have been extraordinarily supportive and helpful. Of course, special among them have been those who have worked tirelessly while serving on the Academic and Educational Policy Committee of the Board.
  • Wonderful colleagues, to a person, on our Principal Executive Staff. They each have always been supportive of the academic mission of the College and my role in it.
  • My two immediate predecessors, Bob and Price. I cannot exaggerate how helpful and supportive each has been to me. They have served as models and counselors. Rarely in a leadership position has one been so fortunate.
  • Excellent and dedicated Vice Chairs of the Faculty Pro Tem, beginning with Rosemary Zumwalt and continuing through Karl Plank, Peter Krentz, Bill Mahony, John Swallow, and to the present with Karen Hales.
  • An extraordinary set of direct reports. Our associate deans, Leslie (Marsicano), Verna (Case), Chris (Alexander), and Pat (Sellers), have worked tirelessly and effectively to help restructure our office, to offer fresh ideas, and to provide important service in their own areas of responsibility. [I would be remiss not to mention Marcia's (Beck) and Laura's (Boyles) fine work, as predecessors to Leslie.]

I also thank Jill (Gremmels) and now Angie (Dewberry) for their efforts and cooperation. And, of course, their predecessors, Leland (Park) and Hansford (Epes), provided outstanding service, counsel, and friendship to me over so many of the fifteen years.

  • Ann (Douglas) and Pat (Gardner). have always been there for professional and personal support. We all owe Pat G. particular gratitude as she is the only one who has endured each day of these fifteen years! Wendy (Roberts) and Traci (Russ-Wilson), in the President's office have also been unfailing in their kindness and help.
  • Finally, the faculty, staff, and students of this institution are truly "second to none!" While I have indeed been challenged by you all and while I know I have sometimes either disappointed or upset some of you with particular decisions or actions, I have felt your warmth and your support. I am forever grateful, remorseful only for those times when I may not have lived up to your expectations.

So, I look forward to my remaining months of service as your VPAA, pledging my full energies and efforts through the expected transition date of July 1, 2013. [I have assured the President that if a successor is not present precisely on July 1 that I shall "keep the office open," until the transition can occur.]

With heartfelt gratitude for the gift of working now into my 34th year at this truly special place, with such fine people, I remain sincerely,