Last week, University President Julie Wollman announced her resignation from Edinboro University.
“I wasn’t looking for another job. I was recruited actively for this position,” Wollman said. “I had been recruited for a number of other positions and said that I wasn’t interested, but this interested me because of the commitment of the university to civic engagement and leadership development. [They’re also making a] difference in the local community where they’re really very engaged in economic redevelopment and students are very engaged in that work and so they are doing a lot of work in the community that’s directly connected to their curriculum.”
Another factor in the decision to leave the plaid behind was the proximity to Philadelphia, Wollman’s hometown, but she also added that, “I love Edinboro and this has been a wonderful place. I feel like as a team, we’ve made a lot of progress and I think that the team includes not just the leadership team, but the faculty, staff and the students who’ve really been involved in making a difference here. But I feel like we are on a really good path and we’ve made a lot of progress over the last three and a half years so, I felt like maybe it was time for a new challenge and that this place would continue to grow stronger and stronger.”
The hardest part of leaving Edinboro for her would be the people, as she explained, “The people I have grown to love and care about made it really hard because I love the institution, and university is the people, really, so that made it hard definitely.”
Looking back, Wollman said there has been much success in, “getting to change the culture and focusing on excellence in everything that we do, making sure that quality of service and all of our offices are excellent, making sure that we are consistently excellent academically.”
She added the fact that the university has been named a “Great College to Work For” two years in a row, to which she is proud of, as well as the Higher Education Excellence and Diversity award two years in a row. She also added the establishment of Porreco College and its success is a major accomplishment, as well.
Looking further back, Edinboro University has had 4 presidents in 20 years. Dr. Frank G. Pogue served 11 years from 1996 to 2007. Dr. Jeremy D. Brown served four years from 2007 to 2011. Dr. James D. Moran served as interim president for one and a half years from 2011 to 2012. Dr. Julie E. Wollman became the 17th president, as well as the first female president, and served over three years from 2012 to 2016.
With a change of many presidents, the question of stability comes to mind. “Well, I think the stability comes in consistency of focus. When I got here, there had been a president previously and then a interim president one year and Dr. Brown had not been here for that long, but the focus of what he was trying to do to improve the quality of what was happening here and to raise the reputation of the university, I think that we have carried that on and I think that that’s going to carry on with the new leadership here,” Wollman said.
While Wollman cannot determine what is needed in a new president, she stated, “I hope that it will be somebody who continues to raise the quality of what’s happening here and get the word out about all the really terrific things that are happening.”
University Director of Communications, Jeff Hileman added there will be a search committee comprised of the campus community and wider community that will determine what exactly the university needs and the kind of person needed to move forward.
He added that Wollman’s leadership will continue on and hopes to find a new president who desires openness to the campus and community.
And while Hileman stated that it wasn’t up to him to determine what is needed in the next president, he reflected on some of Wollman’s outstanding qualities.
“I think that her openness to students is a model that I hope will continue. Her emphasis on putting students first for all of us, even for people who work on campus in roles that don’t directly affect students, I think that she has made them more aware of how they are here for the students and the students are first. I think that’s a very important quality in the university president,” Hileman said.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with a university president who very much believes in communicating with the campus community and speaking with media,” Hileman continued. “She’s never said no to an interview if she could possibly fit it into her schedule and so I think that openness is quality that I would want and hope we can find in another president.”
President Wollman appeared saddened by the sudden move, but a smile was on her face when she talked about some of her fondest memories at Edinboro.
“Time with students. Having students at our home. Being honorary captain for different athletic teams. Attending student senior concerts. Other events on campus. My listening hours where students have come and really honestly said things that concerned them and I was able to do something about it. The great thing is if you listen, you can do something about it. If you don’t know about problems, you can’t do anything,” Wollman said.
She continued, “I think those would be my fondest memories — times that I’ve spent with students and teaching my freshman seminar, my first year experience class. I’ve really loved that, as well as taking the class on beginning bagpiping, which I wouldn’t have said I loved it at the time because it was really hard, but I got a lot out of that.”
“I just really hope that it is clear to the university community that Wollman did an excellent job and she is going to be greatly missed, but we are in a great position to move forward and we will be moving forward in a very positive way,” Hileman said.
Karlee Dies is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org