Ivy Tech Community College President Tom Snyder plans to retire in 2016 after nearly 10 years as leader of the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, school officials said Wednesday.
Snyder, 72, received a transitional contract from the college's board of trustees Wednesday morning that will allow him to step down a year before his current contract ends. He received his last contract—a five-year extension—in 2012. The college will soon start looking for a successor.
“We knew this day was coming where we would need to start to think about finding a worthy successor to lead Ivy Tech,” Indiana Board of Trustees Chairwoman Paula Hughes said in a written statement. “The State Board of Trustees is so appreciative of President’s Snyder’s service to the students, faculty, staff and state of Indiana. The Board of Trustees is working out the details around the process and the timing of the search, and will have further announcements in the coming weeks.”
Before taking leadership at Ivy Tech, Snyder was a business executive with no background in education management.
He spent a dozen years as CEO of Anderson-based auto-parts maker Remy International Inc. after 20 years as an exec with General Motors Corp. He also spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant.
Snyder said he was ready to move “onto the next phase of [his] career.”
“When I joined Ivy Tech Community College in 2007, I did not expect to be here for the better part of a decade, but the team made some huge and impactful changes that have taken time to implement,” he said in a written statement. “They have put the school in a position for success into the future.”
On Tuesday, Snyder was chosen by President Obama to serve on the national College Promise Advisory Board, a panel of education leaders expected to share ideas for models to make community college free. Obama expects those leaders to recruit more of their peers to join the cause. Obama pitched his free-tuition plan at Ivy Tech's Indianapolis campus in February.
Snyder, who succeeded Gerald Lamkin at Ivy Tech, saw huge enrollment increases during the first part of his tenure as unemployed workers headed back to school to learn new skills during the recession. Recent years have seen significant enrollment declines.
Fall enrollment at the statewide network of more than 30 campuses rose from about 75,000 when Snyder took the job in 2007 to a peak of more than 111,000 a few years later. That figure dropped to about 91,000 in 2014.
Snyder, who oversees nearly 9,000 full-time and part-time staff and faculty, has pushed for changes to boost student retention and degree completion with mixed results.
Ivy Tech said about estimated 110,000 Ivy Tech students have earned a degree or certificate during Snyder’s tenure. But only about 27 percent of full-time Ivy Tech students complete an associate degree within six years, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
Ivy Tech was the only one of Indiana's public colleges that didn't receive money for any major building projects in the new two-year state budget that took effect July 1.
Legislators included a provision in the budget bill that required the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to review Ivy Tech programs with low graduation rates and order restructuring or elimination of those programs.