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Wilson College president retiring next year

May 25, 2010

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Lorna Duphiney Edmundson, president of Wilson College, has announced her plans to retire next year, effective June 30, 2011, marking 10 years as Wilson's president and four decades in higher-education leadership, the school said in a news release.

Edmundson is Wilson's 21st president.

In accepting her announcement on behalf of the Board of Trustees, board Chairwoman Trudi Warner Blair, a 1976 Wilson graduate, expressed gratitude for Edmundson's "tireless commitment to the college's cherished goals and traditions."

"This is a moment of both pride and sadness for the college -- pride in all that has been accomplished during her presidency, and sadness in the departure of such an inspiring leader and devoted friend," Blair said.

"It is a deep honor to serve as Wilson's president, and I know I will miss this community of remarkable faculty, staff, alumnae and students, but I believe it is the right time for me to retire from full-time higher-education leadership," Edmundson said.

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Edmundson said she still finds work at Wilson "immensely rewarding," but is eager to pursue other opportunities that include integrating previous work as a Fulbright Research Scholar in Japan with her growing professional interests in the Middle East, North Africa and China; devoting more time to several boards and organizations on which she already serves, particularly the Educational Scholarship Committee of the New York and International Women's Forums; and spending more time with her husband, daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren.

With the announcement of her retirement, Edmundson leaves Wilson with a legacy of innovation and growth. During Edmundson's tenure, she led Wilson in completing and implementing its first comprehensive strategic plan that resulted in:

  • Greatly strengthening the college's financial situation by doubling the endowment, diversifying investments, developing additional revenue streams, creating operational efficiencies, and establishing a successful grants and foundations program.

  • Launching the Leading with Confidence campaign that has already yielded $42 million toward the $45 million goal.

  • Improving national rankings and public visibility of the college, including recognition for nine consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report in its "America's Best Colleges" issue as a "Top Tier" and "Best Value" college and in 2009, Wilson ranked seventh in the North among colleges offering bachelor's degrees.

  • Distinguishing the college as an institution that fosters confidence and transforms lives; sends high numbers of students to graduate school, especially in the sciences; offers high-quality programs for adult degree students, single women raising children and women students from many nations; and prepares students for global citizenship and environmental stewardship.

  • Launching a major science initiative, including the Wilson Institute for Science, Mathematics and Technology, and the new the new Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology -- Wilson's first new building in 45 years and the first gold LEED-certified building in Franklin County, Pa.

    o Strengthening and expanding undergraduate programs and establishing the college's first graduate programs.

    o Increasing the numbers of full-time faculty, and strengthened staffing and compensation college-wide.

    o Wilson joining the American Colleges and Universities Presidential Climate Commitment as a founding signatory, promising that Wilson will work toward carbon neutrality.

    o Launching Wilson's Global Citizenship Initiative, which prepares students for cross-cultural understanding and effective stewardship on global issues.

    o Greatly increasing the numbers of international partnerships in South Korea, and expanding them to Saudi Arabia, Japan, and China.

    Before coming to Wilson in 2001, Edmundson served as president of Trinity College of Vermont, the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges and the Vermont Chapter of the International Women's Forum. She held senior leadership positions at the American University in Paris; Columbia University's Teachers College, School of General Studies; and Columbia College, Marymount College and Colby-Sawyer College. She lived and studied in France, Algeria and Japan.

    Edmundson is a graduate of Columbia University's Teachers College, Columbia's Graduate School of Business' Executive Program in Accounting and Finance, Boston College and Rhode Island College.

    Wilson's board will organize a "careful, deliberate and thorough search" for Edmundson's successor, according to Blair. The Presidential Search Committee will be chaired by John Gibb, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees. A presidential transition team will also ensure the college's successful completion of current fundraising goals, and that it continues to work on challenging financial issues facing the college and develops a transition plan for the next president, Blair said.

    With plans to accomplish much more before her departure, Edmundson believes the timing of her retirement is right for Wilson, and looks forward to a final year of advancing the college's mission and greatly surpassing the $45 million campaign goal.

    Blair said Wilson will continue to build on Edmundson's successes, and is confident that the college will complete the search and name a new president before June 30, 2011.

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