That is the question I am most frequently asked these days, since I announced in August that I will be stepping down as president of Gannon University at the end of the academic year.
I realize now that I’ve conditioned those around me to always have a plan. Ask anyone on the Leadership Team: we have a plan for every initiative – recruitment, student engagement, employee engagement, our Ruskin Campus and every other university priority.
So, I realize it strikes people as odd when I say that I have not solidified a plan – yet, anyway – for my “what’s next.”
Part of the reason for that is I’m not retiring fully, nor walking away from the Gannon family that I love. I am stepping down as president and taking a year away, but then returning to Gannon in a less prominent and (hopefully) less all-consuming role.
"I am eager to see what my "next" is about... I dearly love Gannon...In return, Gannon has loved me back and transformed me in immeasurable ways."
During the summer, I pedaled a bicycle from Erie to Albany over the course of eight days. It was a wonderful change of pace, and it was a reminder that there are other things I can do. Personally, I have some ideas of ways in which I will spend my time. I have a wife and four children who deserve more of my attention. I have a golf and tennis game that also need a lot of attention.
Rest assured, I also have ideas how I might continue to meaningfully serve our students inside and outside the classroom, our neighboring communities, economic development initiatives and our university in developing next-level institutional ventures all at the discretion of our new university president.
For now, though, my and our focus needs to be on staying busy executing the plans we have already made for Gannon’s success. These are heady times, and we must keep executing and strategically moving forward.
I am looking forward to this change and new start. Being a university president is more a lifestyle than a job. You are always the president and the light switch is always turned on. It is a blessing and a privilege for one’s mind to be perpetually reimagining how and what we can do better and differently to support our nearly 5,000 students and 1,000 employees. I have been working on this puzzle and navigating it for 12 years, and it is time to consider our possibilities from a new seat and allow another leader to take over the reins.
I am eager to see what my “next” is about and am confident that my relationship with Gannon will still play a starring role. I dearly love Gannon. I have given everything I have to it these past nearly 18 years, first as provost and then as president. In return, Gannon has loved me back and transformed me in immeasurable ways.
It would be easy to continue in this role. But that would also be selfish. It is essential for an organization to evolve, and Dr. Walter Iwanenko will bring new ideas and energy that this university deserves.
Remember, I’m not done yet and there is much to do before June 30, 2023. I look forward to seeing you around campus and making more great things happen this year.
Keith Taylor, Ph.D., President