• At the conclusion of his 2012 State of the University Address, President Jake B. Schrum announced his plans to retire at the end of June 2013 . (Photo by Lucas Adams)
    Lucas Adams
  • President Jake B. Schrum receives a standing ovation after announcing his retirement to faculty and staff members.

President Jake B. Schrum has announced plans to retire from Southwestern University at the end of the university’s 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Schrum has served as president of Southwestern since July 1, 2000. He is the 14th person to serve as president of Southwestern and the third Southwestern graduate to serve as president of the university. Only three other Southwestern University presidents have served longer.

President Schrum announced his plans to retire while giving his annual state of the university address to faculty and staff Aug. 23.

“It has been a special honor and privilege to lead my alma mater,” he said. “Jane and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. Southwestern has a great future ahead of it and I look forward to watching its continued progress.”

Dr. Robert W. Karr, chair of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees, said a search committee composed of trustees, faculty members, students, staff and alumni will start meeting in September to begin the search for a successor. Karr said the trustees plan to announce a successor well before President Schrum leaves office June 30, 2013.

“I know of no person more passionate about undergraduate liberal arts education than Jake Schrum,” Karr said. “Southwestern’s 15th president must exemplify that same passion while providing visionary leadership consistent with the University’s core purpose of fostering a liberal arts community whose values and actions encourage contributions toward the well-being of humanity.”

The trustees have secured the services of a search firm to help them in their selection of a new president. The firm, AGB Search, is affiliated with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and specializes in assisting colleges and universities with leadership transitions.

President Schrum earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Southwestern in 1968 and went on to earn master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1973. He began his career in higher education administration by serving as a fundraiser for Yale, and then went on to hold other positions in university advancement at Muhlenberg College, Texas Wesleyan University, Southwestern University and Emory University. He returned to Texas Wesleyan University to serve as its president from 1991 to 2000.

During his tenure at Southwestern, President Schrum has presided over the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history. That campaign, which is known as Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign, has raised more than $136 million of its $150 million goal. President Schrum has been instrumental in developing relationships with new funding sources such as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has given Southwestern 16 grants totaling more than $8 million during his tenure. President Schrum personally received three presidential leadership grants from the Mellon Foundation and helped secure the relocation of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), which is supported by the Mellon Foundation, to Southwestern in 2009.

Funds raised through the Thinking Ahead campaign have allowed Southwestern to construct several new buildings during President Schrum’s tenure, including a new admission center and the Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning, which consolidates student services into one building. Several buildings also have been renovated, such as the Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center.

Funds raised through the campaign also enabled Southwestern to start its signature program known as the Paideia program. The program was designed to help students integrate what they learn in the classroom with outside experiences such as civic engagement, intercultural learning and research projects with professors. President Schrum helped secure an $8.5 million gift from the Priddy Charitable Trust that enabled Southwestern to add the faculty members necessary to implement the program. While the original Paideia program was voluntary, a new program that makes the benefits of Paideia available to all students will be launched in the fall of 2014.

Another of President Schrum’s major accomplishments has been increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups who attend Southwestern. Thirty percent of the students in this fall’s incoming class at Southwestern are students from underrepresented groups compared to 21.8 percent in the fall of 2000.

President Schrum also personally pushed for an emphasis on sustainability at Southwestern. He signed both the Talloires Declaration (an international effort to promote environmental sustainability in higher education) and the College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which requires campuses to promote sustainability through teaching and action. On Jan. 12, 2010, President Schrum signed an agreement with the city of Georgetown that enables Southwestern to get all of its electricity from wind power for the next 18 years. All the buildings that have been constructed at Southwestern in the past five years have earned LEED certification.

Enhancing student life on campus has been another focus of President Schrum’s administration at Southwestern. Included in this was expanding Southwestern’s athletic offerings. Four new varsity athletic teams were started or announced during his tenure – softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and football.

President Schrum also has been instrumental in bringing the Georgetown community together to make Georgetown a “college town” rather than just a “town with a college in it.” He also formed a Board of Visitors to help spread the word about Southwestern across the country.

President Schrum has been a national leader in the field of higher education and has served as national board chair for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as well as for the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT).

In his final year at Southwestern, President Schrum said he hopes to bring the Thinking Ahead campaign to a successful conclusion and to have Southwestern’s accreditation reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

After he retires from Southwestern, President Schrum and wife, Jane, plan to continue to have a residence in Georgetown.

For more information on President Schrum, visit http://www.southwestern.edu/about/leadership/

Related Content