- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Joseph Urgo, the president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, will be leaving at the end of this month, the college’s trustees announced Tuesday night, ending his three-year tenure at the public liberal arts college.
Urgo asked the college trustees not to renew his contract, according to a statement released after a five-hour closed meeting of the board. His departure comes as the college struggles to find enough students to fill its freshman class, which in turn has created a financial shortfall.
The statement released by the college Tuesday night said that Urgo was leaving for personal and professional reasons.
“I leave with mixed emotions because I have enjoyed my time so much at St. Mary’s College,” Urgo said in the statement. “Leading St. Mary’s College for the past three years has been a tremendous privilege and a great pleasure. The College’s legislative charge of high academic standards and financial accessibility, while challenging, is an inspirational mission.”
Urgo had been under intense pressure from faculty members, alumni, students and others since last month, when he announced a shortfall in admissions for the freshman class for next academic year.
Urgo reorganized the admissions and financial aid offices during the last two years, eliminating some positions and bringing in new faces. Some have blamed those changes, including dismissing a longtime admissions officer, for the failure to attract enough students to fill the incoming freshman class.
During a trustee meeting in May, Urgo said he and others at the college were examining what caused the shortfall and at the same time were stepping up efforts to fill as many of the openings for freshmen as they could this spring and summer.
The enrollment for the incoming freshman class is now at 371 students, according to a college administrator. That leaves a shortfall of about 100 students, as opposed to the 150 gap that existed in early May. At that time, school administrators said they might need to cut $3.5 million, or roughly 5 percent, from next year’s operating budget.
An afternoon meeting for the college community is planned on campus today, Wednesday, to discuss specifics related to the budget cuts that may still be needed.
Some cuts could include not filling vacant positions, cuts to department budgets, possible furloughs and tabling planned raises, school administrators and others have said.
Urgo successfully joined lobbying efforts this year to provide extra money to the college to freeze tuition at $12,245 for the next two years. In the 2010-2011 academic year St. Mary’s had the fifth-highest tuition among public four-year institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“The board [of trustees] is grateful for Dr. Urgo’s commitment to St. Mary’s College of Maryland and his advocacy for liberal arts education,” according to statement from the college. “The board wishes Dr. Urgo well in his future endeavors.”