Updated, 2:30 p.m.: No outside pressure, internal unhappiness or specific event led University of Texas at Arlington President James Spaniolo to his decision to announce his retirement, he told the Tribune on Monday.
"There's no sense of dissatisfaction or ambition or anything like that that prompted me to make this decision," he said. "I'm not being recruited. I'm not anticipating any specific opportunity. I'm not looking to be a university president someplace else."
While he said University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and the board of regents have been supportive of his presidency, Spaniolo said that after months of mulling it over, he had reached the personal decision that it was time to move on.
"It's important not to stay too long," he said, "to give others an opportunity for fresh leadership."
Under Spaniolo's more than eight years of leadership, the university has become less of a commuter campus and has significantly increased its research capacity as it positioned itself to compete to be the state's next tier-one research university. It recently opened a new basketball and special-events arena that community leaders hope will help spur growth in Arlington.
Spaniolo said he did not know what he would do next, but would remain an advocate for UT-Arlington. "I feel a great loyalty and pride in our university," he said.
He is expected to remain in place for at least a few months until a search for his successor is completed.
University of Texas at Arlington President James Spaniolo announced on Monday that he intends to retire as soon as the University of Texas System Board of Regents complete a search for his successor.
Spaniolo, who has run the university for the last eight years, broke the news in a campus-wide email. Here is that memo:
To the UT Arlington Community:
After careful thought, I have concluded it is the appropriate time to pass the baton and let others continue the stewardship of our remarkable institution. It has been the highest honor of my career to have served as your president for the past eight-and-a-half years, and I will devote myself in the months ahead to assuring a smooth transition in leadership.
I am so proud of where the University is today. UT Arlington’s record-setting achievements demonstrate what we have accomplished together. No matter the measure, our institution has made great progress in the past decade. UT Arlington is thriving and is well positioned for the future, and the transformation we have ignited will guide the way for years to come. Our next president will join a University on track to become a major research institution.
UT Arlington is what it is today because of talented faculty and staff, motivated students, and dedicated alumni. Our leadership team — deans, vice presidents and many others — is superb, the best I’ve worked with anywhere. If I have been successful, it is because of our collaborative efforts. It has been a joy to work with all of you and to bring attention to your accomplishments. For that opportunity, I want to express my deepest gratitude.
I also want to thank Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, my colleagues at UT System, the Board of Regents, and my fellow university presidents for their friendship and support. For all the challenges we face, we are fortunate to be part of the finest university system in the country.
With the concurrence of the Chancellor and the Board of Regents, I will continue as president until a successor is selected. Meantime, let’s stay focused on our mission. There is much work to be done, and our continued progress as a university requires our best efforts. In the words of Robert Frost, whom I quoted eight years ago in my investiture address, we “have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep.”
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