Tilghman: No plans to retire
“At the time, I thought that was a realistic plan. Nothing was set in stone,” she said. “I certainly think that there are many projects that I would like to see completed.”
Originally, Tilghman planned to follow a timetable modeled after her predecessor Harold Shapiro GS ’64, who completed a five-year capital campaign in 2000 and retired the following year after a 13-year tenure. Shapiro’s capital campaign quadrupled the University’s endowment from $2 billion to $8 billion, raising money to finance the construction of the Frist Campus Center and academic buildings such as the Bendheim Center, Fischer Hall and Wallace Hall. To date, Tilghman’s capital campaign has raised 94 percent — or $1.64 billion — of its total and is expected to be completed on schedule.
In 2009, Tilghman said, “It’s the rhythm of a presidency, which is why I think once this campaign is over and we have a year to celebrate it, it’s time for me to move on.”
Tilghman, who is now halfway through her 10th year as president, said that the exact year of her retirement will be influenced by the preferences of the Board of Trustees. She explained that she will retire when all parties agree that the timing is appropriate to begin searching for a successor.
The Board of Trustees interacts with the Office of the President frequently. It conducts an annual performance review of the president, meets five times a year to discuss high priority University projects and receives an annual written report from the president. While conversations between the board and the president such as the one in 2009 are confidential, there are no indications that there have been any discussions about Tilghman’s retirement.
Kathryn Hall ’80, chair of the Board of Trustees and founder and CEO of Hall Capital Partners, based in San Francisco, said that the board was “very pleased” with Tilghman’s leadership.
University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69, whose office has administrative responsibility for the Board of Trustees, said that he is delighted she does not yet have plans to retire.
“My own understanding [of Tilghman’s 2009 interview] ... was that she certainly wouldn’t think about retiring until the campaign was completed and she had a chance to thank the donors,” he said.
According to Durkee, the year following the completion of the campaign — which Tilghman referred to as a “victory lap” in the 2009 article — would include a tour around the world thanking alumni who donated to Aspire and describing the enormous positive impact that the campaign has had on the University.
While no specific speaking engagements have been set, Tilghman said that they will be choosing locations such as New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago. The tour will also include international stops, including at least one trip to Asia.
The Aspire campaign’s investments — such as the expanded freshman seminar offerings, Roberts Stadium, the Bridge Year Program, the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Neuroscience Institute — have shaped much of Tilghman’s legacy. Moreover, Tilghman said, Aspire helped sustain the University’s scholarships and no-loan financial aid policy throughout the 2009-10 recession, when the endowment declined by over 20 percent.
Tilghman said she would also like to see many of her current initiatives progress in a timely way — including the Arts and Transit Neighborhood and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. Other changes, such as those to University social life, Tilghman acknowledges, will require more of a “gradual change” in campus culture and University structure.
“I would like to see that, within the next 10 years, the residential colleges provide a more integrated community, particularly for our freshmen and sophomores,” she said. “I think we have gone a very long way, but I think they can be made even better.”