After 25 years of service to the Lawrence community, President Rik Warch will be retiring from his position on June 30, 2004.Jeffrey Riester, chair of the trustees, announced the president’s decision in a letter to the Lawrence community last Friday that stated, “The trustees … had hoped that Lawrence could benefit from his leadership for as many years as possible.”
Warch’s tenure as the 14th president is the second longest in the school’s history, second only to Samuel Plantz, who presided from 1894-1924.
President Warch, currently 63, has been thinking about the timing of his retirement for the past year or so, but had always told people in the past, “Plantz’s record is safe.” He gave the trustees as much notice as possible, in order to help make the transition a smooth one. The trustees have just over 20 months to find a successor. “We have enough time to do this right,” said Riester.
The trustees will conduct a national open search, but Warch said he will have “very little involvement in the replacement process.” He may assist in interviewing prospective candidates, but ultimately, the decision will go to the members of the board, he said.
Riester places the search for a presidential successor “at the top of the list of the most important issues the trustees face.”
While the members of the board elected not to begin the formal search process until President Warch’s retirement had been formally announced, they have already been actively considering ways of proceeding.
Although it is still too early in the search process to provide a timetable or extensive details, a search committee will include members of all the constituencies of the Lawrence family, including faculty, alumni, and students. The board is also researching and making inquiries into the possibility of working with a presidential search firm or consultant.
“Although the trustees are keenly aware of just how good and valuable Rik has been as Lawrence’s president,” said Riester, “we are confident that we will find Rik’s successor and that he or she will be a welcome addition to the Lawrence community.”
Warch currently has no definitive plans for his retirement, but he is not waiting around for a “magic idea to drop from the sky,” he said.
Being a proponent of a liberal arts education has allowed Warch to approach retirement with a very open perspective. “It gives you the ability to make choices,” he added.
One area that Warch enjoys and may pursue in some capacity is writing. He may seek to put together a compilation of his speeches for publication.
Warch and his wife will move to Door County after his tenure is completed. The two will liveabout 20 miles from Bjorklunden, which he promises to visit on occasion.