TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis will end her career in higher education at the same place where she received her highest degree.
Curtis announced Wednesday afternoon that she will retire on June 30, 2024 after nearly 38 years in higher education. During the news conference, she said it’s a decision she’s thought about for a while– and she came to peace with it early in 2023.
“It was months ago, it was early in this year. People know that, within a family, there are personal things that take place, and it just became a moment when I said, ‘Everybody has a certain amount of sand in the top part of that hourglass, and it doesn’t stop, and it doesn’t stop,'” she said. “At some point, you stop and take stock and say, ‘What do I want to do with the time that’s left?’”
A press release shared at the announcement touts Curtis’ involvement in the $100 million Be So Bold campaign at ISU, as well as her work in developing innovative programs to help students receive degrees. The $34 million renovations to Dreiser Hall as well as the $66 million renovations to the Technology Annex in the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology were also mentioned in the release.
Curtis, the twelfth president of ISU, began her tenure in January 2018. She is the first female to serve as president and came back to her alma mater from University of Central Missouri, where she served as provost and chief learning officer.
She said she hopes people remember her as someone who “served her alma mater well.”
“I guess I’d say the passion that she brought to this role, that I personally think you almost can’t get unless you’re an alum of an institution, and an alum who understands the significance. All the student-focused activities we try to create, I experienced that here,” she said.
Curtis said it’s the relationships she’s made– and watching students achieve lifelong goals– that she will miss most.
“Every year, new students come to the university and every year, students step off into their lives and their careers, it’s a wonderful flow and cycle of an opportunity and a career, you get to see people take steps out into their lives, as well as my colleagues growing in their careers,” she said.
Before Curtis began her presidency at ISU, she spoke with mywabashvalley.com over the phone in November 2017 and described herself as “an engaging person” in regards to her leadership style. During that same phone interview, she went on to say that collaboration was at the heart of her best decisions working in higher education.
According to ISU’s website bio for Curtis, she and her husband, Lynn, have five children and nine grandchildren– and she said she will focus on spending time with them once her retirement begins.
Robert Carey, Chair of ISU’s Board of Trustees, was quoted in the release saying “the search for ISU’s 13th President will begin immediately” and will be nationwide. Curtis said more information on the search committee should come in the next few weeks.