St. Mary’s University President Charles Cotrell, Ph.D., announced today that he is ready to return to the classroom at the end of his term as President.

When Cotrell, who is the University’s first lay president, steps down in May 2012, he will have led St. Mary’s for 12 years as president and one year as interim president. He will continue his more than 45-year career at St. Mary’s through his long-time love of teaching and scholarship.

“After careful reflection, I believe that this is the right time for me to make this change, one that coincides with the end of the Vision 2012 strategic plan period. Those goals, particularly in areas of academic excellence, creating a culture of service, and expanding the University’s international reach, have helped to define the direction of the University, and will continue to serve as a foundation for the many exciting challenges, goals, and accomplishments to come,” Cotrell said.

Recent accomplishments and recognitions, such as the awarding of The Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification to St. Mary’s, reinforce the strategic plan’s goals.

“I have had the privilege of serving St. Mary’s as president during an exciting and rewarding time for our institution, a time when the University has received unprecedented national recognition for both our academic excellence and our commitment to service and community engagement,” Cotrell said. “These are collaborative achievements that only happen when we, as a community of faithful educators, learners and leaders, come together to fulfill the Catholic and Marianist mission of St. Mary’s University.”

“The University has reached many significant milestones under President Cotrell’s leadership, including receiving the single largest gift in our history, the $25 million donation to endow the Bill Greehey School of Business,” said Robert Elizondo (B.S. ’67), chairman of the Board of Trustees. “I look forward to working with President Cotrell for the remainder of his time as President, and I know he will continue to lead St. Mary’s in the direction of service and academic excellence.”

Elizondo also praised Cotrell’s efforts to enhance the campus itself, including completion of numerous beautification projects and campus additions, such as the Gateway to Historic St. Mary’s, the Barrett Memorial Bell Tower, the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center, Founder’s Hall, and numerous other initiatives either completed or in progress. He noted Cotrell’s dedication to academics and scholarship, particularly his leadership at the state level on issues of importance to all Texas independent institutions.

Elizondo announced that the search for the next president will begin with the formation of a committee, led by Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Phil Pfeiffer as well as former board chairman and current Trustee Ruben Escobedo. Selection of additional committee members from various University constituencies will occur within the next month and the process will begin once all members are in place.

Cotrell, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from St. Mary’s in 1962 and 1964, respectively, earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Arizona in 1970. A tenured political science professor, he has continued teaching through his time as president. Cotrell is well known for his expertise on issues related to election systems and minority participation in elections.

In the time Cotrell has served as president, the university has accomplished numerous significant goals, including establishing new academic chairs, centers and programs; endowing a school; extending the University’s reach globally; and advancing technology in and out of the classroom.

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