CARBONDALE -- Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard announced Thursday that he will retire next year, saying he is ready for the next chapter in his life.
Poshard, who has led the university since 2005, said he will step down on June 30, even though his contract expires in 2015. He said announcing his retirement early gives university trustees time to find a replacement and allows for a seamless transition.
"We had had a succession of presidents who had been here three, two years at a time," Poshard said. "I've been here 7½ years, will be here 8½ years. I think we've stabilized that arena."
Poshard's announcement comes after a dispute among SIU Board of Trustee members about the school's governance was resolved. The rift drew public attention when the SIU board refused to give Roger Herrin, appointed by Quinn in 2010, another term as chairman. His opponents contended he was too involved in day-to-day operations.
In May, the board unanimously selected Randal Thomas, the former head of the state's National Guard, as its chairman. Thomas was picked six days after Gov. Pat Quinn nominated him to the panel, along with former SIU-Edwardsville professor Shirley Portwood. Their appointments came after the Illinois Senate rejected Quinn's previous choices.
Poshard said the new stability on the board, after months of turmoil, made his decision to retire easier. He said Thomas' leadership as chairman of the board is a great asset.
Thomas, crediting Poshard, said he thinks the transition to new leadership will be made easier because of how things have been organized.
"We have the right people in place, and we have the right deputies in place, and we have the right process for replacing people when we need them," he said.
Thomas said the board will begin the process of searching for a new president immediately.
Poshard, who served five terms in Congress and was a member of the state General Assembly before that, got a bachelor's degree in secondary education from SIU in 1970, a master's degree in educational administration in 1974 and a doctorate in administration of higher education a decade later.
After losing the gubernatorial race to Republican George Ryan in 1998, Poshard served four years as vice chancellor at the Carbondale campus.
Poshard's tenure at SIU wasn't without controversy.
He came under fire in 2007 for a 1984 doctoral dissertation, which critics claim was partly plagiarized. They demanded his resignation. However, a seven-member review panel determined the dissertation included "inadvertent or unintended" plagiarism that could be easily remedied without costing him his job.
Poshard also came under fire in 2009 for a university contract that critics said improperly went to his son's marketing agency. The contract involved a regional initiative to bring broadband to southern Illinois. The university's general counsel investigated the dealings and found nothing out of order.