Time for president number thirty-one!
By Kiera O'Hara-Heinz
Two years into Saint Mary’s thirtieth presidency, and it is time for another one. Just one short year after his campus-wide inauguration, Saint Mary’s President Richard Plumb announced that he would be stepping down from his role.
On March 30th, Plumb sent an email titled “My Departure” to the campus community. In this email, he said that after a discussion with his family and the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees, he had decided to step down.
He credits his proudest accomplishments in his role as president as; establishing a new senior leadership team, helping to guide the school through the coronavirus pandemic, working with facilities and the board of trustees to modernize the buildings and grounds, working with Enrollment Management to increase applications for the 2023-24 school year, and collaborating with the Faculty Senate to increase communication between faculty and staff.
Some Saint Mary’s community members have expressed a desire for the school to include more diversity initiatives in the search for a new president. Plumb declined to comment on the search or efforts to recruit a successor. Santa Clara University, a similar private Catholic college inaugurated its first female layperson as President last year. A 2017 National Catholic Recorder article, found that at the time, out of the 220 Catholic colleges in the U.S., 46 had female lay presidents, a 137 percent increase since 2000, with male lay leadership increasing 38 percent over the same time period.
According to the Saint Mary’s website, the Board of Trustees will announce its Interim President in the near future. The Board says it “plans to launch a national search for the College’s next President and form a search committee that will include trustees, Christian Brothers, faculty, staff, and student advisors.”
In a statement on the college communications website, Chair of the Board of Trustees Eric Flowers praised Plumb for his leadership during the pandemic saying, “While higher education struggled through a pandemic that took a toll on faculty and students, we’re grateful that President Plumb guided the College in substantive ways.” Flowers went on to wish both Plumb and his wife Mary, the best in the new chapter of their lives.
Plumb became the 30th president of Saint Mary’s College in July 2021. He previously served as executive vice president and provost at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and nine years as a dean at Loyola Marymount. Before his role as an administrator, Plumb was a professor of engineering and Computer science.
President Plumb will be stepping down as President of the College on June 30, 2023. Reflecting on his time as President, he describes the two years as some of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of his life. He also expressed gratitude for the community he found on campus, saying simply, “I feel deeply indebted to so many of you for making my and Mary’s time at Saint Mary’s full of joy and love.”
Madison Sciba '24,