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Baldwin Wallace University president announces he's stepping down

Baldwin Wallace University President Bob Helmer has announced that he will be retiring as of June 30.
Baldwin Wallace University
Baldwin Wallace University President Bob Helmer has announced that he will be retiring as of June 30.

Baldwin Wallace University President Bob Helmer announced in a letter to students and staff Wednesday that he will be retiring as of June 30.

The news comes as the university announced plans to cut 23 staff to address a serious budget deficit earlier in 2024, amid other efforts to curb costs.

Helmer, who's been president for the past 12 years, said it's been his "privilege to lead an institution with a long and storied history" in the letter.

"I have been blessed throughout my tenure here to have worked with an amazing faculty, a dedicated staff, challenging and inspiring students, and a board with vision and determination," Helmer said. "Together, we have accomplished a great deal – including taking the sometimes-daunting steps to address the new financial landscape higher education across America faces today. I feel confident I am leaving Baldwin Wallace prepared to continue its mission of serving those who seek an education based on the values of the arts and sciences, and the needs of the 21st century."

The institution is launching a national search to replace him, according to a press release sent Wednesday morning. In the meantime, the university's board has established an "office of the president" to lead while the search gets underway. That office will be led by Tom Sutton, who's been named acting president and provost, and joined by the university's chief financial officer, vice president for operations and vice president of philanthropy.

The group will report to a special Board Advisory Committee, according to the release, "charged with making sure the university continues to focus on keeping Baldwin Wallace fiscally strong and structured to grow during a time when many colleges and universities – especially in Ohio – are facing significant challenges, including declines in revenues and enrollment."

In addition to the cuts to staff, other cost cutting measures announced in February included a hiring freeze through December 2024 and reorganizing 13 programs, including no longer admitting students in some majors and merging others.

Helmer said he was grateful for his time at Baldwin Wallace.

"This is an institution that gives students an extraordinary education but just as importantly, instills values and character that stay with our graduates for a lifetime," he said. "Thank you for letting me be part of that process. I wish each of you – as well as our students and future students – every success.

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Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.