Metro State University president to retire in 2014

Update: Context on Hammersmith's retirement comes after the announcement below.

This just in from Metropolitan State University:

Metropolitan State University President Sue Hammersmith announces retirement

Hammersmith (MnSCU)

Sue Hammersmith, president of Metropolitan State University, has announced that she will retire at the end of her current contract on June 30, 2014.

She has been president of Metropolitan State since 2008.

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“It has been a great joy and privilege to serve as the president of Metropolitan State University and to witness the extraordinary education that transpires between our students and our faculty and staff,” said Hammersmith. “Although I continue to be inspired by our mission, our vision, and our students, I look forward to retirement and the opportunity to pursue additional interests after 38 years in higher education and six wonderful years at Metropolitan State.”

“I would like to thank President Hammersmith for her years of service and many contributions to the university and its success,” said Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

“The metropolitan area has benefitted from her collaborative work with the university’s faculty and staff. Under President Hammersmith’s leadership, the university made significant progress in serving the community, advancing excellence in its programs, and providing students with an outstanding education.”

During Hammersmith’s presidency, Metropolitan State’s enrollment has grown by 20 percent, enrollment of students of color has increased by 35 percent, the number of degrees conferred has grown by 38 percent, and several new programs have been added, including applied doctoral programs in business management and nursing practice.

An interim president will be appointed to serve during the 2014-2015 academic year. A national search for a permanent president will be initiated during the summer of 2014. Chancellor Rosenstone will visit the university campus to consult with students, faculty, staff, and the community on the desired qualities of the next president.

Hammersmith's announcement comes after high-profile payroll snafu that left many summer employees underpaid and prompted Chancellor Steven Rosenstone to call for an audit.

It wasn't the only financial snafu the university had faced. A state auditor report in January 2012 found that Metropolitan State had overcharged students -- and, again, underpaid faculty.

Metro State had also taken guff for plans to build a parking facility.

In September, the faculty union gave the administration a resolution it had passed that expressed "grave and significant concerns" of the faculty about:

... the continuing and developing crises that confront the university, including Human Resources and payroll, community relations and the parking ramp, ongoing vacancies in dean leadership in several colleges and schools, the failure to determine a West Metro campus, significant problems in the development and completion of articulation agreements, and the resulting effects of these crises on campus climate, morale, and our ability to best fulfill our commitment to student growth and development.

Yet Metro State professor Monte Bute, who has also done work on behalf of the faculty union, gave props to Hammersmith for the enrollment gains cited in the retirement announcement above.

Bute called it "the most phenomenal growth jump" the university has experienced, and said, "She had to make do with nowhere near the resources she needed" to do the job.