SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Jerome Supple, president of Southwest Texas State University for the last 10 years, will ask the school’s governing board for a three-month study assignment during the spring 2000 semester to investigate the effects of cancer on leaders and their roles in institutions of higher education.
Supple became interested in the subject two years ago when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. (His latest medical report showed the cancer in complete remission.) So far he has solicited 20 other university presidents across the country to become part of his study. He will do background research and develop interview questions this summer. Then in the fall he plans to gather data, including interviews. He will spend the spring in a focused effort at analyzing and organizing his findings before resuming his duties as president.
Supple announced his plans in a letter addressed to colleagues and friends that was dated June 23.
“After my own diagnosis,” he said, “I looked for information on how cancer touched the lives of university presidents and their campuses, and I didn’t find much. So I decided to conduct a study of my own. This is an important issue, I believe, and I feel that I am in a fairly unique position to conduct this kind of study. I haven’t done research in many years and am looking forward to this project immensely.”
Supple, whose Ph.D. is in chemistry, was a faculty member and researcher prior to administrative appointments in the State University of New York System. He was with the SUNY System for 25 years before he assumed the SWT presidency in April 1989.
In his letter, Supple said that he will recommend to the board that Robert Gratz, vice president for academic affairs, be named acting president while he is away from campus. The school’s governing board is the Texas State University System Board of Regents, which oversees SWT and eight other campuses.