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Shawnee State University Board of Trustees Announces Presidential Search to Begin


May 5


Dr. Rita Rice Morris will retire as President of SSU on June 30, 2015.

In a letter sent to Shawnee State University faculty and staff today Melissa Higgs-Horwell, SSU Board of Trustees Chairperson, announced that Dr. Rita Rice Morris will retire as President of SSU on June 30, 2015.

The letter said that a search for the sixth president of Shawnee State University has begun with the appointment of a Presidential Search Committee. This committee is comprised of three trustees, Jack McCoy, Kay Reynolds, and Scott Williams, with Higgs-Horwell serving as an ex-officio member. The committee will engage an external search firm to assist with the process and will make recommendations to the Board of Trustees, who will ultimately select and hire the University’s next president. The Presidential Search Committee’s efforts will be supported by a Presidential Search Advisory Committee with representation from the University’s many constituencies. This committee will be formed during the summer and will begin meeting this fall, after classes resume on campus. The goal is to identify a new president by mid-spring 2015.

“Under Dr. Morris’ leadership, Shawnee State University has gained significant momentum,” Higgs-Horwell said in the letter. “Over the last decade, the university has strengthened its mission of service to the region and state through advances in quality, access, and community partnerships, and we want to ensure that this momentum continues to build and move us forward – through this period of leadership transition and beyond.”

Among accomplishments during Morris’ administration, Higgs-Horwell cited a 17% increase in enrollment, development and advancement of a 20-year master facilities plan, growth in academic programs, and creation of services designed to meet the specific needs of SSU students and to help them succeed in college.

Higgs-Horwell also announced that the SSU Board has hired a consultant to conduct an environmental scan to help the board identify opportunities and develop strategies that continue to advance the institution. The board has also given President Morris a list of priorities for the next twelve months that includes efforts with strategic planning, the FY16 budget, implementation of the University’s newly developed Completion Plan, and relationships with governmental leadership and industry partners in advancing the state’s workforce development agenda.

“I’m proud of what the faculty, staff, students, and community have accomplished at Shawnee State University over the past 11 years and I look forward to continuing to work with the university community and our partners over the next year to advance the priorities established by the board,” Dr. Rita Rice Morris, SSU President, commented. “Much can be accomplished in a year.”


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