|10/12/2009 - COLUMBUS, MISS.
When Dr. Limbert finishes her tenure as President of the Mississippi University for Women, she will leave behind an impressive legacy that includes enrollment growth and a focus on academics and teaching that has caused many to take notice.
After more than seven outstanding years of service, Dr. Limbert announced today that she plans to retire at the end of June 2010, when her current contract ends.
"My MUW family has taken me on a fantastic journey and for that I will always be indebted to them. Looking back on our work together, I am truly honored and humbled to have been a part of it all," said Dr. Limbert, appointed as MUW's 13th President in April 2002. "Now that the goals we set out to meet have been accomplished or set in motion, it is time for another to take the reins. It is also time for me to be with my family and concentrate on something that I long to get back to — writing."
Making the decision public now gives the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning ample time to pick a successor, Dr. Limbert said.
"We are saddened to say goodbye to Dr. Limbert," Board President Scott Ross said. "She is a remarkable person and her contributions and service to this institution will never be forgotten."
The Board is expected to accept Dr. Limbert's retirement request and to discuss the institutional transition during its upcoming Board meeting on Thursday, October 15, 2009. The meeting will be held at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.
"Dr. Limbert has a compelling personal story that has clearly guided her unique approach to academics and institutional life," Trustee Amy Whitten said. "She has encouraged her students to believe in themselves and recognize the value of getting a quality education because she knows firsthand how important these two things are."
A native of the Missouri Ozarks, Dr. Limbert is a first-generation college graduate in her family. At the age of 35, after settling down and starting a family, she decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in English, history and education from Bethel College in Newton, Kan. She earned her master's and doctorate in creative writing and English literature, respectively, from Boston University. After earning her degrees, Dr. Limbert served in various high-level positions at Penn State University, Dubois, including Campus Executive Officer and Director of Academic Affairs.
At MUW, Dr. Limbert hit the ground running. Four months after she began her tenure in June 2002, a tornado devastated the campus and community. Twenty-six buildings were damaged, some severely, losing entire roofs and suffering extensive water damage. Within a week, under Dr. Limbert's leadership, all classes resumed.
Dr. Robert Khayat, former Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, said that Dr. Limbert's strength during that trial was awe-inspiring.
"Dr. Limbert is a courageous leader and it has been my privilege to work with her," Dr. Khayat said. "The success of a university president's tenure is usually measured by the answers to three questions: Is the university stronger? More appealing? Does it have more resources? The answer to all three of these is 'yes' because of Dr. Limbert's efforts."
Notable accomplishments during Dr. Limbert's tenure include:
- Increasing enrollment to nearly 2,500 students this semester, a 17.5 percent increase from Fall 2002 to Fall 2009 enrollment;
- Increasing foundation endowment levels, up from $16 million in 2002 to more than $27 million in 2009;
- Securing more than $5 million in congressionally-directed grants for academic programs, institutes, and other campus initiatives; and
- Earning top spots in prestigious rankings including, in 2009, No. 7 out of 80 southern institutions in U.S. News & World Report's "Commitment to Teaching" category.
"Clearly, Dr. Limbert's record speaks for itself," Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank Bounds said. "She is a shining example of an educator we should all seek to emulate because her head and her heart are in exactly the right place. She is in constant contemplation about the futures of her students and the university, and we thank her for her commitment and dedication these past seven years."
For more information about Dr. Limbert and the Mississippi University for Women, visit www.muw.edu/president. For more information about the State Institutions of Higher Learning, visit http://www.ihl.state.ms.us/.