President Robert Weisbuch announced Wednesday he will step down at the conclusion of this academic year, June 30, to focus on his writing, according to a university news release.
Madison resident Dr. Vivian A. Bull, president emerita of Linfield College and a former professor of economics at Drew, has been appointed by the university’s Board of Trustees to serve as president until a permanent successor is found.
During his seven-year tenure, Weisbuch led Drew in re-envisioning the liberal arts for a new era, the news release said.
In a letter to the university community announcing his resignation, he reaffirmed his belief that Drew is “poised to become a model of real-world liberal education in all three of its schools”—the College of Liberal Arts, Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and the Theological School.
“I will leave Drew with a strong sense of fulfillment that, together, we have achieved major improvements in terms of student diversity, faculty scholarship and pedagogy, curricular innovation, and student engagement,” Weisbuch wrote. “Drew’s original purpose, to employ learning in service to humanity, has been renewed and redefined.”
John H. Crawford III, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, thanked Weisbuch for his service to Drew.
“Bob has been an excellent champion for the liberal arts,” Crawford said. “He has consistently challenged our thinking on their place in today’s world and has sought to make Drew a model for liberal learning in the 21st century.”
Crawford said Weisbuch will leave Drew with a strong vision for the future. In February, the Board of Trustees passed a new strategic plan for the university, which reaffirms and seeks to strengthen the institution’s core values: quality teaching, faculty scholarship that fuels student scholarship, and an emphasis on civic, global and professional engagement, the news release said.
“The plan will serve as our guide through this transition period and beyond as we continue to transform Drew,” Crawford said.
Weisbuch, a scholar of American literature, plans to take a sabbatical—his first in 25 years—to work on three books. One, he says, will be on issues in the humanities, another on Emerson’s Divinity School Address, and a third, for fun, on Top 40 radio.
Bull, who served as president of Linfield College for 13 years and led the school through a period of unprecedented change, has been charged with leading Drew through this period of transition and maintaining the forward momentum that began with the adoption of the plan.
“Vivian brings a record of excellence in scholarship and leadership and a deep knowledge of Drew. She’s one of us,” Crawford said. “But she also brings a wealth of experience from outside that will serve the entire community well as we work to implement our strategic plan and move the university forward.”
Bull has longstanding ties to Drew, where she taught for more than 30 years as a member of the economics department. Her husband, Robert, professor of church history, emeritus, taught for 37 years in the Theological School. Camper, her elder son, is a 1991 graduate of the College and is currently serving as president of its alumni association.
“I am deeply honored by this opportunity to give something back to Drew which both trained and nurtured me over many years,” Bull said. “These are exciting and challenging times in higher education but Drew has a clear path for the future guided by the strategic plan. I am confident that, with the commitment and work of the entire Drew community, the university will continue to champion liberal arts, graduate and theological education in its own distinctive way. I look forward to being a part of Drew during this interim period.”
Bull is also an active member of the United Methodist Church. She is currently working with its General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, where she chairs the investment committee, serves with the University Senate and is working with a new international education project.