Illinois College President Axel D. Steuer today shared with the college’s Board of Trustees his plans to retire from the college by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
“With President Steuer’s encouragement, we have had informal conversations about planning for a presidential transition for quite a while,” reports Illinois College Board Chair Joy Becker. “We appreciate the flexibility President Steuer has shown in implementing that planning. His effective leadership has been instrumental in helping the college build upon its rich history, even as it has embraced an exciting vision of its future as one of our nation’s leading liberal arts colleges.”
Steuer became Illinois College’s 13th president on June 1, 2003. He has witnessed considerable changes in the roles college leaders play since he became president of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota in 1991.
“Over the past couple of decades, rapid demographic changes in our nation, increasing government regulation, repeated economic crises and calls for greater accountability have made the job of the American college president ever more challenging and interesting,” Steuer said. He continued, “I am fortunate that the high point of my career in higher education could be at an institution such as Illinois College that has an amazing heritage and such a promising future. Loreli and I have loved our time at Illinois College and our involvement in the City of Jacksonville. The students, faculty and staff here are among the best we have encountered anywhere. We look forward to working closely with the board and our Illinois College colleagues to help the college continue to move forward during our remaining time here.”
Since joining the Illinois College community, Steuer has championed student leadership and service as hallmarks of an Illinois College education. In addition, he has witnessed the completion of the successful $21 million Leading the Way campaign, and capital projects on campus totaling nearly $29 million. Under his leadership, Illinois College’s national profile has been raised with favorable rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly and Newsweek, as well as recognition from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since the founding of the award five years ago.
Steuer has also made a commitment to environmental sustainability on behalf of Illinois College. The United States Green Building Council awarded LEED Silver Certification to Abraham Lincoln Hall – one of the first structures in downstate Illinois to achieve this award. In addition to becoming a signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college has become affiliated with Starhill Forest Arboretum and has been honored by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA College for its dedication to forest management and environmental stewardship the past two years.
President Steuer and first lady Loreli Steuer have been philanthropic leaders at Illinois College and in the Jacksonville community. The couple has given substantial financial support to the college in the form of student scholarships, musical performance opportunities and landscaping. In addition to her role as an adjunct instructor in English at Illinois College, Loreli Steuer has been at the forefront of several charitable activities, most notably the purchase and preservation of Woodlawn Farm, a national Underground Railroad (UGRR) Site, by the UGRR committee of the Morgan County Historical Society.
The Illinois College Board of Trustees has begun to identify consultants who will assist the college with a nationwide search for a successor to President Steuer. A board-appointed presidential search committee, comprised of representatives from all of the major constituencies of the college, will work with the board and the search consultant to craft a detailed job description to be used in the search.
“The Board understands how important the appointment of the 14th President of Illinois College will be to the future of the college,” stated Board Chair Becker. “We are pleased that the search process will be deliberate and inclusive, even as the board recognizes that it has the ultimate responsibility for choosing the next leader of Illinois College.”