SRU President Cheryl Norton announces retirement
Dec. 9, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Cheryl Norton, who was appointed as the 16th - and first female - president of Slippery Rock University in 2012, has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2017.
Norton made the announcement as part of her president's report to the University community at the SRU council of trustees quarterly business meeting today.
For Norton, the timing will mark five years at the helm of SRU, a time during which she and husband Henry "... have been privileged to be part of the Slippery Rock University community."
In delivering her announcement, Norton discussed the many "opportunities for celebration" and "a number of challenges" that the University has faced during her tenure, including: the decline in state appropriations, the flooding of the Smith Student Center, the separating of the wall at Spotts World Culture Building and the recent faculty strike. "But, despite these challenges, this institution has continued to move forward," said Norton.
Despite the economic issues plaguing Pennsylvania, SRU is one of the most financially stable institutions in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education and recently earned kudos from the chancellor and board of governors for its stewardship of state resources , she said. Remarkably, even though faced with a declining number of high school graduates in western Pennsylvania, SRU's enrollment reached an all-time high this fall with 8,881 students.
"In response to the changing work force needs in our region, our institution has reinvented itself, growing our graduate programs with offerings such as a doctorate in special education, the physician assistant degree, and a master in public health," Norton said. "We have also developed new and innovative undergraduate options such as homeland security, corporate security, the BFA in dance, and, of course, engineering.
"We are indeed a public institution that exists for the good of the public. And the public is better because of Slippery Rock University.
"More importantly, we have excelled as an academic institution, leading the way in Pennsylvania, the region and the nation."
Norton went on to discuss that the institution's vibrant past and strong roots laid a foundation for unlimited potential that she saw immediately upon her arrival and has watched unfold during her tenure.
"The history is written, the roots are spread across the globe by everyone who has or is currently working and contributing to the institution and we are just scratching the surface of that unlimited potential. Slippery Rock University has never been in a stronger position," Norton said.
"Our students have attained record high levels of retention and graduation rates, our first Barry Goldwater Scholar was selected, in 2014 University Advancement cash donations set a record, last year our institution was awarded Green Ribbon status by the Department of Education - one of only 11 schools in the country to be so honored," she continued.
"And, four years ago, Slippery Rock University, for the first time in its history, had the highest ranking in the State System's Performance Indicators initiative. An achievement we've repeated two more times in the last three years, including this year.
"Our degree programs are recognized nationally. We have been ranked in the top four publics in Pennsylvania and in the top 150 in the country. Yes, there is much to celebrate.
"It is for all of these reasons, that my announcement today, is not made easily, but given after much thought and consideration. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your president. You have taught me much and I appreciate the lessons.
"To everyone at SRU, thank you for your genuine love for this institution, its students and belief in the value of education for we can only achieve what we believe.
"May the sun always shine at Slippery Rock."
Following her retirement, Norton and her husband will be returning to their home in Denver to be with family and prepare to celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary.
A national search for a new president will begin immediately.
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