MSU Texas President Suzanne Shipley announces retirement

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Midwestern State University President Dr. Suzanne Shipley has announced her plans to retire.

In a statement distributed to the MSU Texas community Wednesday morning, Dr. Shipley said at the May Board of Regents meeting she notified them of her intended retirement date of August 31, 2021.

Dr. Shipley has served as MSU Texas’ president for six years, time she said holds immense value to her and her family.

“Both my husband Randy and I hope that our legacy will be one that is cherished as we cherish MSU,” Dr. Shipley said. “It is here that I was able to accompany my mother through her last five years on earth, here that I stood with the family of Robert Grays to honor his important influence on our university, and here with our campus I mourned the loss of Coach Noel Johnson. Difficult times, but some of the most important that life brings us.”

Dr. Shipley said the MSU Texas Board of Regents has expressed its intent to ask Dr. James Johnston to serve as interim president beginning September 1, 2021, and that more details will be shared later this summer regarding the search process and the timeline for the next president of MSU Texas.

“I am excited about all that our future holds and thank you all for making it possible,” Dr. Shipley said. “We have much still to accomplish in the months remaining in my tenure, and I know that you will help me finish strong at MSU Texas.”

Please find the full statement from Dr. Shipley below:

There are moments in a university’s history that demand that we pause and celebrate our past as an exciting new chapter opens. We have celebrated just such a moment last week as we moved one step closer to becoming the fifth university in the Texas Tech University System with a positive vote by the Texas Senate to approve HB 1522. Now the bill will await the Governor’s approval in the coming weeks. We are grateful to our legislative representatives James Frank and Drew Springer for their sponsorship of this legislation.

I believe that this next chapter in our history provides an excellent opportunity for a transition to new leadership for MSU Texas. At the recent May Board of Regents meeting I notified them of my intended retirement date of August 31, 2021. MSU stands before two great opportunities in the coming academic year—our proposed inclusion in the Tech System in September and the launching of our Centennial in January 2022. I am so proud to have accompanied this strong and vibrant university on its journey to such a promising future. MSU is well positioned to attract its twelfth president in a comprehensive search, much like the one that brought me here, once the oversight is transferred to the Board and Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System.

It’s amazing that simultaneously with our transition into the TTU System we were also able to advance our first doctorate in Educational Leadership toward its likely approval with SACSCOC in June of 2021 and position our second doctoral proposal in Radiologic Science with its THECB review so that it can enter the SACSCOC process in the fall. Our most recent accomplishment, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan just approved by the Board of Regents is the result of a year of honest dialogue and widespread consultation with members of the university and Wichita Falls community. This plan has the potential to create long-term and transformative change at MSU. It is my hope that when we look back at some point in the next decade that we will see the activation of this plan as another turning point in this historic year. Issues that affect us all are addressed there and will bring closely held values to the forefront. I will be watching for this progress for many years to come.

Of course, in the six years I have spent as your president, we’ve answered crises with unity, as witnessed by our effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud that this campus pulled together to keep the university safe even during the most demanding periods of 2020. We were indeed the safest place to be, not only in Wichita Falls but perhaps in the state, due in large part to the planning of multiple groups and the self-discipline of all. We’ve also had to weather a few troubled times made more public by the ease that social media offers critics to speak out, but those times have made us stronger and better able to navigate multiple media venues.

There are many accomplishments to celebrate, among them the launch of our Boundless Opportunities campaign and creation of our highly successful faculty-staff campaign transforming half of us into donors for MSU Texas. Always grateful for the generosity of this region, MSU has now stretched its campaign goal to $75 million, which is 150% of the initial goal. We are benefiting from gifts like the addition of the Priddy Scholarship for first-generation students, the renovation of Daniel Hall to support Greek and student life, and the naming gift in support of the McCoy College of Science, Mathematics & Engineering. We can also pause to celebrate significant additions of talented new faculty and staff, just as we have sent treasured employees off to new opportunities. The State’s Tuition Revenue Bond funding positioned MSU to enhance our already beautiful campus with the addition of Centennial Hall and upgrades to Moffett Library and Bridwell Hall, adding to additions like Legacy Hall with its impressive United Supermarket Learning Commons and the critical addition of the Mass Communication wing of Fain Fine Arts Center.   

I hope you all know how very grateful I am for this opportunity to lead such an energetic, can-do group of people. I enjoyed every single day, some more than others, but all were important. It has been a privilege to turn my experience in higher education to the challenges and opportunities here at MSU Texas (just that version of our name is progress). Both my husband Randy and I hope that our legacy will be one that is cherished as we cherish MSU. It is here that I was able to accompany my mother through her last five years on earth, here that I stood with the family of Robert Grays to honor his important influence on our university, and here with our campus I mourned the loss of Coach Noel Johnson. Difficult times, but some of the most important that life brings us.

Finally, I want to assure our campus and community that an experienced, reliable, and engaged leadership team will seamlessly take on the mantle of leadership needed for this upcoming academic year. The MSU Texas Board of Regents has expressed its intent to ask Dr. James Johnston to serve as interim president beginning September 1. Randy and I will be here through the summer and I’ll be able to share the stage at our August opening meeting with the incoming interim president of MSU Texas and Chancellor Tedd Mitchell of the Texas Tech University System. More details will be shared later this summer regarding the search process and timeline for the next president of MSU Texas, which will be a collaborative effort among our campus and regional community and the Texas Tech University System. I am excited about all that our future holds and thank you all for making it possible. We have much still to accomplish in the months remaining in my tenure, and I know that you will help me finish strong at MSU Texas.

— Suzanne Shipley, President, MSU Texas

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