June 3, 2015
Dear Members of the Chatham Community:
Today I write to tell you that I have informed the Board of my decision to retire effective June 30, 2016. What a wonderful run we have had together!
The period since my arrival in 1992 has been a time of great growth and change for Chatham. The accomplishments of the last two decades have been many, and each of you has contributed to help make these a reality. Many of Chatham’s successes can be described in numbers: increased and growing enrollments, greatly increased assets--- including becoming the largest academic land holder in Allegheny County---and more. We have received national and international recognition and awards for our work, especially in the field of sustainability, such as recently being named a Top 50 and Top 20 “Green College” by the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club. This fall we anticipate the success of our dual strategy of coeducation and reorganization, and will welcome an incoming undergraduate class on track to be double the size of the last one. Also this fall we will open Eden Hall campus the first net zero, carbon neutral campus in the world with its associated Falk School. We will continue to seek funds in our NEXT Campaign beyond the $80 million we have already raised, which is the largest campaign amount in our history so far!
But the numbers do not tell all: I am most proud that we have been able to do these things while always seeking quality and the individual orientation of our academic programs—all of them, from undergraduate to graduate and online. We have much to celebrate, in areas both of continuity of mission as well as change.
I am grateful for the partnership we have had in that work, and all that each of you has done to advance this institution. It is my sincere belief that but for your faith in Chatham, your leadership, risk taking, hard work, and, at times, sacrifice, we would not have the many accomplishments of which we can boast today.
Chatham's successes are your successes. I am appreciative and admiring of all of you: the extraordinary leadership team that I have been privileged to work most closely with; the superb administrative and support team; the outstanding and devoted faculty who have both embraced and led change while also guarding academic quality and the student experience. And of course, our students, the reason we all do our work: the students have been engaged with their learning but also committed to this community, always conducting themselves with civility, even when there were differences as great as the one last year over coeducation. Alumnae/i too, have led and helped the institution emerge from the great travails of the late eighties. As we went through recent challenges, it was clear that all, regardless of their position on the topic of coeducation, cared passionately about Chatham, and valued their educational experience here. Finally—and certainly not last—without the devotion of the Chatham Board of Trustees, one of the most progressive and committed Boards in the nation, none of the things we have accomplished could have resulted.
I thank you, too, for your friendship that has been generously extended. We have worked together on Chatham's behalf now for 23 years. My children, Matt and Nick, grew up on the campus, and many of you befriended them, too. They join me in thanking you for making Chatham a home for us.
Being president of Chatham has been a life enhancing opportunity for leadership both at this wonderful institution and in the City. It has been a double privilege to serve Chatham, and to participate as her representative in civic leadership roles in this extraordinary City that is now experiencing new and thrilling growth. One small but lasting symbolic intersection of these roles for me was our successful efforts to rename the Ninth Street Bridge for Rachel Carson!
In the fall of 1992, Dr. Elizabeth McCormack, former president of Manhattanville College, said at my inauguration, “It is Esther Barazzone's turn.” Now it is someone else’s turn and I look forward to seeing and cheering for all that you will do together. I know it will be wonderful, and I look forward to joining you in supporting this new president and Chatham as you go forward into the future. I am excited for the change for Chatham, as well as for me, and wish each of you my very, very best.
It is with optimism for Chatham, as well as my personal future, that I send this letter. As to my future, it is yet to be determined (think of me as on that sled in the last frame of the Calvin and Hobbes series — “Let's go exploring!!”), and I look affirmatively ahead.
Chatham has the energy, optimism, will, and leadership to continue successfully facing the challenges that will assuredly come along. The Board will be announcing the details of the search for a new president shortly, and surely will provide opportunities for you to meet the candidates to be my successor. Please also visit www.chatham.edu/barazzone2016 for the official press release and other items of interest related to Chatham over the past two decades, my tenure as President and the presidential transition process.
Meanwhile, we have a year more to work together to continue to advance our shared agenda of making Chatham excel! You knew I would say that, right? I look forward to the coming year -- still moving on “Chatham time”.
With great gratitude and affection,