Wright State president Cheryl Schrader announced Tuesday she will retire from the position at the end of the year after serving two and half years at the university.
Schrader— who was hired in 2017 on a five-year contract — said she would step down as president Dec. 31, ending a two-year run in which she was forced to navigate the school’s financial and legal troubles and a 20-day faculty union strike.
“It has been an honor serving as President of Wright State University, and my husband, Jeff, and I are proud to call Raider Country our home,” Schrader said in an email to campus. “I am looking forward on an immediate basis to spending more quality time with my family.”
The university would not answer questions about the retirement. The WSU Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Wednesday.
“We are looking forward to the chance to build a new and constructive relationship with the next president,” Noeleen McIlvenna, history professor and president of the Wright State chapter of the American Association of University Professors said. “For the sake of the students, for the sake of quality education, for the sake of everyone at Wright State we look forward to a bright brand new future.”
Schrader said she plans to teach in a faculty position at Wright State after leaving the presidency. But, she said she will “take some time to retool in preparation.”
Schrader, an engineer, has served in leadership positions at universities for 20 years. She said that she has missed teaching and realized it when she returned to the classroom earlier this year during a faculty union strike.
“(T)his past spring, I, along with many others, returned to the classroom to teach — in my case in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, It has been many years since I taught students on a daily basis, and frankly I discovered that I very much missed the classroom, particularly the opportunity to help shape the future, and I found these times with students to be both joyful and energizing,” she said.
Walt Branson, vice president for finance, is also expected to leave the school, sources told the Dayton Daily News. Provost Sue Edwards, who was hired by Schrader, is expected to serve as interim president, two sources have said.
Spokesman Seth Bauguess said he could not confirm whether Branson would leave or whether Edwards would serve as president in an interim capacity.
Schrader started her job at Wright State in July 2017. She emerged from a nine-month national search and a pool of 61 candidates to become the seventh president of Wright State and the university’s first woman leader.
Schrader’s departure caps a tenure filled with issues she inherited but was forced to reconcile. Her predecessor, David Hopkins, resigned from Wright State’s presidency in March 2017.
She faced backlash from the faculty, which nearly brought a vote of no confidence against her in the faculty senate. Instead the faculty senate, which is not affiliated with the faculty union, held a vote of no confidence in the school’s board of trustees.
Schrader’s evaluation following her second year in office was delivered verbally, as is the university’s practice, spokesman Seth Bauguess said via email. She did not receive a bonus or a raise, he said.
During Schrader’s two years in office, Wright State has attempted to rebound from a financial crisis that started before she arrived. The university has doubled its cash reserves over the last two years, increasing them from around $31 million in 2017 to more than $60 million as of this fall.
The university’s financial trouble was the result of six years of overspending from 2012 through 2017.
Under Schrader’s watch, WSU also settled a federal investigation into H-1B visa misuse last year for $1 million. Like the financial trouble, the federal probe started years before Schrader arrived on campus.
Sean Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Wright State board of trustees, praised Schrader’s work to help balance Wright State’s budget. The university ran a surplus each year Schrader was in office.
“Dr. Schrader has helped instill strong budget controls and accountability that will serve us well into the future and we are grateful for her work,” Fitzpatrick said.
Before coming to Wright State, Schrader was chancellor of the Missouri University of Science and Technology. While at WSU, she received a base pay of $425,000 and was eligible to receive up to $260,750 in job perks, excluding health and retirement benefits, according to her contract.
Branson also worked at Missouri S&T and was hired on at Wright State shortly after Schrader started. He was vice chancellor of finance at Missouri S&T. Branson’s salary at Wright State was $305,000 per year, according to his contract.
Before starting at WSU in July 2018, Edwards served as vice provost for faculty affairs at Appalachian State University, according to Wright State.
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