Paul Smith’s College President John W. Mills announced Monday that he will retire on June 30, 2014, after serving in the office for more than a decade. Mills was the ninth president of Paul Smith’s and the second longest serving president of the college.
“This is the best job I ever had,” Mills, 66, said in a statement to the press issued today. “I’m making this decision, though, at a time when higher education is facing great change. This is an opportune moment for a new leader to help Paul Smith’s execute that transition.” Mills has been president since 2004.
Mills also announced his retirement to the campus community in an email. “It will be through a combined effort of all at Paul Smith’s College – trustees, administration, staff, faculty and alumni – that we successfully meet those challenges, overcome them and realize our potential. And that potential will be reached if we all work toward that goal together, and accept the fact that ‘business as usual’ will not be sufficient,” he wrote.
The Executive Committee of the college’s board is expected to meet Wednesday to finalize plans for conducting a search for a new president. Since Mills joined Paul Smith’s in 2000, as vice president for academic affairs, he has helped usher the college through a period of rapid transformation a statement from the college said. The rest of the press release follows:
“He helped ensure the success of Paul Smith’s transition from a two- to a four-year institution, oversaw some of the largest enrollments on campus since the early 1980s, and drove award-winning programs to strengthen academic support for students who might have dropped out of college without them. The college’s Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) has become a leading voice for the protection of this region’s ecological assets.
“The campus itself also experienced a remarkable transformation under Mills’ leadership. The Joan Weill Student Center, which opened in 2006, has become the center of student life. Two LEED-certified buildings, the Countess Alicia Spaulding-Paolozzi Environmental Science and Education Center and the Overlook Hall residence hall, have been built. An overhaul of the Saunders Sports Complex has resulted in a marked upgrade to athletic and recreation facilities; culinary students are providing fine dining at a pair of new campus restaurants, The Palm at Paul Smith’s College and the St. Regis Café; and countless other improvements have shaped the on-campus experience.
“Paul Smith’s, like many institutions, is searching for a new path forward at a time when traditional models of higher education are facing questions of sustainability and value. Online classes, industry partnerships and other efforts to attract new students – and revenue – are under development.
“Saunders acknowledged that these are challenging times for most small, private colleges – and while Paul Smith’s isn’t immune to these challenges, Saunders said, he emphasized that the college’s financial future looks strong. The college’s $22 million endowment continues to perform well, he said, and Paul Smith’s is in a position to make investments that will attract new students.”
Mills earned an undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University. He taught at Dartmouth Medical School, Harvard Medical School, Temple University School of Medicine, and Clarkson University. He has also served as a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen, and held administrative and research positions with Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Munich, and the Trudeau Institute.
Photo courtesy the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Science.