On January 1, 2015, President Dennis Ahlburg will step down from his position following the end of his five year contract at Trinity. Ahlburg, Trinity’s 18th president came into his position in January of 2010, bringing with him new projects and ideas
“It was a five year contract, and I have decided that the five years are up, so I will step down,” Ahlburg said.
With his contract ending in the middle of the academic year, Ahlburg said that he is willing to stay on until the board finds a new choice.
“I’ve told the board I am more than happy to stay on until they have a new president in place,” Ahlburg said. “There is a usual academic cycle to these things, but I came in the middle of the year so this is just how it has worked out.”
With the five years coming to a close, Ahlburg is looking to leave the campus in the best shape possible, with changes coming full circle and a large first-year class.
“Its been a busy five years; we’ve got lots of things in place, the strategic plan, the new curriculum, the new buildings, plans for the refurbishment of the remainder of the buildings and the start of the refurbishment of the Bell Center,” Ahlburg said.
With so many changes though, Ahlburg made sure not to overload the university, seeing the progress as a good time to step down.
“My interest is in changing things, so but you can’t keep changing things unless there is time to catch up,” Ahlburg said. “The time is such that it is a good time for me to step down; with so many things in place we can implement more of the elements of the strategic plan and put in the new curriculum in place next academic year.”
Although a native Australian, Ahlburg is considering the possibility of staying in San Antonio after his contract ends.
“We’ve fallen in love with Trinity and San Antonio,” Ahlburg said. “This place gets to you which is why three of the former presidents when I came here were all still in San Antonio and connected in some way to the university.”
With the new curriculum set in place come his resignation, Ahlburg may be looking to join faculty, joining the challenge of implementing the curriculum personally.
“I’ve got tenure in the economics department so the idea of going back to teaching and research is really appealing,” Ahlburg said. “It’s kind of funny; instead of saying “˜you guys go ahead and figure out the new curriculum,’ putting myself in the position to deliver on that is kind of interesting.”
When asked about the changes he brought to the University, Ahlburg noted three major things as his proudest accomplishments, with two being the strategic plan and the new curriculum.
“The strategic plan and the curriculum are part of the same thing: what does it mean to be Trinity in the 21st century?” Ahlburg said. “Our world has changed so dramatically and higher education is changing and for us to be ahead of that change instead of behind is one of the things the strategic plan and new curriculum aim to do.”
Alongside these changes there is a sense of respect around the projects the president has accomplished in his time here.
“I think there is generally respect for what Ahlburg has done for Trinity,” said Adam Urbach, professor of chemistry. “Certainly he has built this amazing facility [CSI]; he was a proponent of the strategic plan and new curriculum, two forward looking projects.
“On top of the changes Ahlburg has implemented, his relationship with the faculty and staff, and how they have adapted to his time here, remains one thing he is grateful for.
“One of the things I am most pleased about is how the faculty and staff have accepted that challenge,” Ahlburg said. “It’s an incredible amount of work but the faculty go and do it; I just applaud them.”
Certainly with Ahlburg’s contract ending, and the search for a new president underway, there is some anxiety on campus.However, to Coleen Grissom, professor of English, the change, while stressful, is just another chapter for Trinity.
“It’s always a time of anxiety on the university campus and community when there is a change in leadership especially at the top,” Grissom said. “But from my more than five decades here I can assure the students faculty and staff that the transition will be handled with great care and a full understanding of what the goals and purposes of this institution are; we will make every effort to find the woman or man who can do an excellent job.”
Despitethe conclusion of his contract, Ahlburg remains excited about his future and the future of the university.
“This is a fantastic institution and I think we are in very good shape for the new president,” Ahlburg said. “I’ve been very happy here and I hope the new president is equally happy and successful and we will do what we can to support that.”