"He's a good and decent man. He's been a vast improvement over his predecessor," said Geri Crawley-Woods, a social work professor at Shepherd.
Dunlop followed former school president Michael P. Riccards, who frequently clashed with faculty members over issues such as fee hikes, salaries and administrative cuts.
The school at that time was described as being divided "right down the middle" and teachers complained that Riccards displayed anger and disrespect toward faculty.
The atmosphere during Dunlop's tenure seemed practically the opposite as teachers and the school's student body described Dunlop as sensitive to the needs on campus and weighing issues carefully before making a decision.
"He was good to work with. He thought things (through) before he spoke," said Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, who added that Dunlop communicated effectively with lawmakers about the needs of Shepherd.
Dunlop developed friendships with people like Ed Herendeen, producing director of the school's growing Contemporary American Theater Festival, and was a big supporter of arts programs.
Herendeen said Thursday that Dunlop worked hard on a proposed new arts center on the campus that will cost about $50 million and will offer new venues to see plays.
The Center for Contemporary Arts will be built on the west campus along W.Va. 480 across from Shepherd's football stadium. School officials broke ground on the project July 12.
"We have had a long, valued and outstanding partnership with Dr. Dunlop. He's really set the stage for his successor," Herendeen said.
Herendeen said some faculty members knew Dunlop's retirement announcement was imminent but it was not certain when he might make it.
John Sherwood, chairperson of the school's board of governors, said the school will miss Dunlop, and Sherwood wished Dunlop well in his retirement.
"Shepherd University has been fortunate to have Dr. Dunlop at the helm over the past decade. The university has experienced the most successful period in its history under Dave's leadership," Sherwood said.
Although Dunlop said in an interview Thursday that leaving the school will be hard, he said he has reached a point in his life where he wants to do things that he does not have time to do now.
Dunlop said he is interested in being a student himself, taking a few classes and maybe teaching some. Dunlop said he also likes dabbling in computer science and might study that more seriously.
"I thought I would go back and learn how to do it right," Dunlop said.
Dunlop said about three years ago, he bought a vacation home in Florida and he plans to move there after he leaves Shepherd.
Although he will be away from the school, Dunlop is still interested in its future and he said he plans to meet with Shepherd alumni in Florida to raise funds for the school.
Dunlop, who said several hundred Shepherd alumni live in Florida, said he wants to show alumni the progress that the school has made and will work through the school's development office to raise money for its needs.
"My years at Shepherd have been very rewarding, and living in the Eastern Panhandle is wonderful," Dunlop said in a news release from the school.
"The people whom I've met have enriched my life. However, with a bit of luck, we all reach a point where we have an opportunity to pursue activities and interests into the next phase of our lives."
Dunlop said the areas of which he is most proud during his tenure are expanding the school's academic programs, "hiring lots of good people," and overseeing the new construction.
Among the most frustrating moments were working within a state salary system that does not fit everyone, Dunlop said.
Jim Auxer, the former mayor of Shepherdstown, said Dunlop was good to work with on town issues and described Dunlop as having a "progressive philosophy."
Dunlop said he has not set a date for his departure because he wants to be flexible with the scheduling needs of the next president.
What Dunlop's done
Highlights of Shepherd University President David L. Dunlop's tenure include:
· Leading the initiative to obtain university status and changing the name of the institution from Shepherd College to Shepherd University in 2004 by an act of the West Virginia Legislature.
· Responding quickly to the Legislature's decision to separate component community colleges from their host institutions, creating what is now the independent Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg.
· Overseeing a $15 million expansion and renovation of the school's library and the establishment of the nationally recognized Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.
· Assets of the Shepherd College Foundation increased from $4.5 million to at least $15 million.
· The minority student population has increased 92 percent.
Source: Shepherd University