Salisbury University President Dr. Charles Wight announced today that he will step down from his position at the end of the current academic and fiscal year on Thursday, June 30.
“This was a difficult decision, and a personal one. I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I have some serious health issues, and I need to spend more time taking care of myself than this job allows. I also need to spend more time with my family and my four grandchildren.,” the President said in a video announcement to campus.
“Dr. Wight’s ability to sustain Salisbury’s quality and prominence at the same time that he focused on opening access — at the same time that he expanded SU’s academic programs — speaks to his leadership,” said University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman.
“Of course, I got to know that unflappable leadership best during Covid-19, and Chuck’s work to secure the safety of his people while minimizing disruption to students was an inspiration," he said. "All of us within the University System will miss his wisdom and strength.”
Since becoming SU’s ninth president in 2018, Wight, who began his higher education career as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Utah in 1984, has continued to play an active part in the classroom, teaching one course each year. He will continue that role into fall 2022 as a part-time faculty member in SU’s Chemistry Department.
As president, Wight has focused on priorities including ensuring educational accessibility and affordability, building on SU’s culture of diversity and inclusion, being a steward of financial resources and the environment, and furthering mutually positive community relationships, all with the ultimate goal of providing students with the greatest opportunities for success.
Under his leadership, SU opened its Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion, reinstated its Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and completed a campus climate study. Other new facilities have included the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship at SU Downtown and an enhanced 3-D arts studio.
Academically during Wight’s tenure, SU has been lauded among the nation’s top universities and best values in higher education by national publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and The Princeton Review. The university also has launched three new academic majors and 18 new minors.
In 2020, The Princeton Review named SU’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons among the nation’s 20 best college libraries. That same year, SU announced the endowment of its Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College, providing expanded opportunities for high-achieving students. The university’s College of Health and Human Services, announced in early 2018, also launched during Wight’s tenure.
Since Wight took the helm as SU’s president, students also have earned national and international academic honors. Each year during that time, SU has been named among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students by the U.S. Department of State and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Others have received prestigious awards including the Goldwater, Fulbright Canada, St. Andrews, United Nations Millennium, Amgen, Boren, Critical Language, and Running Start Congressional fellowships, among others.
SU also has excelled on the athletic field during Wight’s time on campus, earning NCAA Division III national championships in baseball and women’s lacrosse, as well as a host of conference championships in baseball, field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s track and field.
In the community, the university has supported efforts including the city of Salisbury’s Truitt and Newton community centers, physical and mental health care through initiatives such as its Center for Healthy Communities (also established under Wight), and local schools through its award-winning Professional Development School partnerships, among others.
Another major initiative has been “We Are SU: The Campaign for Salisbury University,” a $75 million fundraising effort representing the largest in campus history. Under Wight’s presidency, the SU Foundation, has seen its endowment top $100 million for the first time.
Wight and his wife, Victoria, also have provided their support for SU in the way of gifts and endowments, including the $40,000 Dorothy Ruxton Student Chemistry Research Fund, named in honor of Wight’s mother.
During that time, SU also has completed a strategic plan for 2020-2025 and, as part of those goals, is preparing to launch a new branding initiative following a year of research and development.
In addition to these successes, Wight also has led the University through several challenges, including modified operations during the Covid-19 pandemic and incidences of racial injustice both on and off campus.
In announcing his decision, Wight thanked members of the university and greater communities, including the USM Board of Regents; Chancellor Perman; and SU faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends.
He also shared a special message with SU students:
“Your desire to seek higher education and find ways to make a better future has made mine the best job in the world, and it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your president.”
The USM Board of Regents will conduct a national search for SU’s 10th president, expected to take office on Friday, July 1.