SWT President Jerome Supple announces retirement
SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Southwest Texas State University President Jerome H. Supple said today that he will retire effective Aug. 31 of next year.
Supple, who turned 65 in April, made the announcement during his annual State of the University address, traditionally given to a university-wide convocation of faculty and staff at the beginning of each academic year. The Texas State University System Board of Regents will determine a process to search for Supple’s replacement and will announce those plans at a later date.
Supple told his audience that leaving the university will be difficult. “It will be like swinging the best dance partner ever into the arms of another, a heart-wrenching experience,” he said. “I still believe I have the best job in the world, but it can’t go on forever. I am proud of what we have accomplished during the last 12 and a half years and know that the prospects for the future are even greater.”
Supple, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, emphasized that his health is fine. “This decision is not based on my health,” he said.
Supple became the eighth president of the 102-year-old school in April 1989.
His tenure at the university has been one characterized by growth in enrollment, quality and prestige, said the chair of the TSUS Board of Regents.
“Southwest Texas State is simply not the same university it was before Jerry Supple arrived here,” said TSUS Board Chair Nancy Neal of Lubbock. “Jerry had a vision for SWT, a vision that seemed extremely ambitious to many people 12 years ago. But a special person can take a great vision and make it a reality. Jerry Supple has proven to be such a person. His work on behalf of SWT will never be forgotten. It will be an enormous challenge to replace him.”
During Supple’s presidency, SWT has:
- Raised admission standards several times, making it one of the most selective public universities in the state.
- Improved student retention from 57% to 75%.
- Established several new enrollment records, including the current fall semester when the university is expected to surpass an enrollment of 23,000 students for the first time in its history.
- Begun offering its first doctoral degree programs in geography and education, and laid the groundwork for doctoral proposals in other academic fields.
- Announced plans to move to NCAA Division I-A, the highest level of competition in intercollegiate football.
- Successfully completed the university’s first major gifts capital campaign, raising more than $74 million in the process and exceeding the original campaign goal by $14 million.
- Increased private gifts to the university from a half million dollars a year to more than $8 million, and the endowment from $15 million to $53 million.
- Increased the amount of research funding from $5 million annually to $32 million.
- Improved efforts toward cultural diversity. In 2000 minority students made up 27 percent of the SWT student body, compared to 19% in 1988.
- Acquired the former Aquarena Springs theme park and has begun to convert the property to a research and public education center focused on water resources and environmental issues.
- Celebrated the university’s centennial in 1999.
- Opened several new buildings, including the Albert B. Alkek Library, the new Lyndon Baines Johnson Student Center, the Science Building, the Student Recreation Center and the Health Sciences Building; renovated Centennial Hall, Flowers Hall, the old student center and the J.C. Kellam Building; and begun construction on the Roy and Joann Cole Mitte Art, Technology and Physics Complex and the stadium end-zone complex.
Supple came to SWT from the State University of New York System, where he had progressed through academic ranks from chemistry faculty member to acting president, serving at campuses in Plattsburgh, Fredonia and Potsdam. He holds degrees from Boston College and the University of New Hampshire and served a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.
Supple and his wife, Catherine, have three sons: James, a general manager with Gillette Co. who lives with his wife Karlyn in Manchester, N.H.; Andrew, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro; and Paul, a second-year law student at Georgetown University.