Dudley-Eshbach announces she is stepping down as President of Salisbury University effective June 30

Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, the president of Salisbury University, today announced her decision to step down effective June 30, 2018.
Dudley-Eshbach was appointed SU’s eighth president in 2000, the first woman to hold the office. She is the University System of Maryland’s longest-serving female president and is the second longest-tenured president in SU history.
“I first knew Janet when I was President of Towson University,” said USM Chancellor Robert Caret. “She was (and still is) a fierce champion for Salisbury University. Her energy, passion, intelligence and humor marked her as someone whose voice would be heard. When I returned as Chancellor, those aspects of her character had not changed, but she also can speak eloquently about the significance of public universities everywhere, particularly their missions to help all students and educate an informed public. She has made higher education her life, and SU, the University System of Maryland, and the citizens of Maryland, are better for it.”
“Change is good, for institutions and individuals,” Dudley-Eshbach said in a letter to campus. “Eighteen years is a long tenure for any university president, especially in today’s world.
“On reflection, I am immensely grateful to everyone associated with Salisbury University. We’ve accomplished so very much together, and my own successes would not have been possible without the support and dedication of thousands of staff, faculty, students, alumni, donors and members of SU’s many affiliated boards.
“I have wanted to time my decision in a way that fits the internal needs of the University,” she said. “I will not be retiring, but looking forward to new opportunities.”
In an agreement with the USM chancellor and regents, she will serve as a special advisor to the University during a sabbatical year which begins July 1, 2018, assisting her successor with transitional matters, supporting fundraising efforts and engaging in special projects, “so long as these activities do not interfere with the primary purpose of my sabbatical,” she added, “which is preparation to resume service as an active member of the faculty beginning the 2019-20 academic year.
“I am greatly looking forward to returning to my first love – teaching, mentoring students, and scholarship. I also hope to make more time for family, music, reading and other interests.” The president is bilingual and said “I wish to be involved in community service activities and would like to work with our region’s Spanish-speaking community, particularly those who may need help with English language skills.”
Dudley-Eshbach’s leadership has been transformational, with a strategic vision that has resulted in the University’s growth in size, reputation and private support. When she arrived, the campus had a student population of 6,400. Now, it is over 8,700. As a Latin American literature and Spanish-language scholar, she was profoundly moved by her own study abroad experiences and exposure to different cultures and ethnicities. She personally funded a scholarship to assist SU students wishing to study in Latin America and cut the ribbon on SU’s Center for International Education and English Language Institute. Today, the campus attracts students from over 60 countries. Earlier this year, SU was recognized as a national leader in its class for study abroad programming, according to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
Walking the walk, Dudley-Eshbach has joined students on spring break service trips to areas such as Aguascalientes, Mexico, and has served on educational delegations to Cuba. Her passion for international study and “Transformative Love of Hispanidad” have been showcased by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.
When she first came to Salisbury, she said she wanted the campus to be more reflective of the demographics of Maryland. Under her leadership, the number of minority students has more than tripled with one in four now from diverse backgrounds (up from 11 percent in 2000).
Through joint programs the campus now reaches out to students at five satellite sites throughout Maryland and Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany (in partnership with the University of Maryland University College). These centers allow students who may not be able to afford or find it impossible to live in Salisbury the opportunity to attend.
Inclusion at Salisbury has taken different forms: The Rick Dudley Scholarship was the first endowed fund in the USM dedicated to graduate students with disabilities.
Years before controversies swirling around Confederate memorials, the President supported the creation of a larger-than-life bronze sculpture celebrating Harriet Tubman, believed to be the first commemorative three-dimensional likeness honoring the “Moses of her people” on Tubman’s native Eastern Shore.
Strategic partnerships and the elevation of town-gown relationships have been part of Dudley-Eshbach’s vision. “Were it not for the support of the area community, SU would not be the exceptional institution it is today,” she said. Outreach and civic engagement are now a pillar of an SU education.
The University, for example, is playing a highly visible role in downtown Salisbury’s renaissance. Following the private donation of the $4.4 million Gallery Building to the SU Foundation in 2015, the University relocated its downtown art gallery there. Other SU centers slated to follow include the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative and a new Center for Entrepreneurship, funded by another $5.5 million private gift.
Dudley-Eshbach also established a Town-Gown Council, and recently a Center for Extended and Lifelong Learning, forging additional community ties.
For her civic commitment, in 2015 the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore awarded her its prestigious Jim Barrett Community Leadership Award for exemplifying philanthropic leadership. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot also personally nominated and presented her with the 2015 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Wicomico County for her transformative impact on the University and city.
Dudley-Eshbach has been successful in getting more equitable state funding for SU and in attracting private support, including several multi-million dollar gifts, to foster dynamic changes, from new buildings to new academic programs. The margin of excellence she has pursued for many campus initiatives would have been impossible without private philanthropy. She, in turn, has been generous, endowing the new Faculty Center in the Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons (GAC). With her husband, Joe Eshbach, she was inducted into the Sea Gull Society (for University donors whose cumulative gifts exceed $100,000) and the Holloway Society (for those making a planned gift).
During her tenure, the SU Foundation’s net assets have grown from $27.1 million to $74.7 million, an increase of 175 percent. The capital campaign, “Taking Excellence to New Heights,” in 2012, exceeded its target of $25 million by nearly $15 million. The funds have supported student scholarships, faculty development and often been the catalyst for campus expansion.
The University skyline has been transformed by state-of-the art facilities including Conway Hall, Perdue Hall, the Henson Medical Simulation Center, the Sea Gull Square residence-retail complex, the campus’s first parking garage, renovated fitness center and residence halls, and the re-configuration of the University athletics complex with new softball and baseball stadiums, soccer and intramural fields and tennis courts, all grounded by Sea Gull Stadium, now lauded as one of the best in NCAA Division III athletics.
The jewel in the crown has been the award-winning Guerrieri Academic Commons, a $117 million center and library-of-the-future which has elevated student use to record levels. The GAC recently dedicated its Brown and Church Carillon, one of only 60 such traditional instruments nationwide on a university campus (the only one at a Maryland university) and praised by carillonneurs from across the country for the beauty of its tone. It was made possible by a $2.4 million private gift.
Altogether, during Dudley-Eshbach’s presidency, the University has expanded from 59 buildings to 89, with some $350 million in new facilities. The footprint of the campus also has grown significantly from 114 acres in 2000 to some 220 acres today.
As a champion for SU in Annapolis and Adelphi (home to the USM), and with careful fiscal management on campus, Dudley-Eshbach has been able to bolster operating budgets, which have grown since 2000, from $70 million to $183.3 million. Faculty and staff salaries are no longer below the median at SU’s peer institutions. University Business magazine has honored the campus with “Models of Efficiency” awards. With almost 1,800 employees, it has become one of the region’s largest employers, making an economic impact of nearly half a billion dollars annually.
During her tenure, nearly a third of SU’s current majors and the campus’ first doctorates, in nursing practice and education, have been developed. She established an Honors College, which recruited 12 percent of the entering class this fall. Complementing Honors is a new Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office, with four SU students winning Fulbright scholarships this year. In 2015-2016, the U.S. State Department named SU among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars.
She has supported independent student research and SU is the only campus in Maryland to have hosted the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, and one of the few comprehensive universities to have done so twice.
SU’s online M.B.A. program was ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Its Perdue School entrepreneurship programs, which include a million dollar grant from the Ratcliffe Foundation, have mentored and funded a generation of entrepreneurs. In education, professional development school partnerships with local public schools have earned national recognition. Salisbury was the only institution in Maryland and one of only 44 nationally selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to participate in its “Re-Imagining the First Year of College” project. The campuses selected “exhibit strong leadership and other qualities that are conducive to effecting broad-scale and sustainable change,” said George Mehaffy, AASCU vice president.
Committed to sustainability, Dudley-Eshbach has fostered such initiatives as a new solar parking canopy, which generates enough electricity to power three residence halls; a “green roof” on the GAC of drought-tolerant plants filtering rainwater and helping cool the building; and a Green Fund to help realize student sustainability proposals such as the campus’ new apiary. SU’s beautiful grounds, a designated national arboretum, has earned state and national honors, and the U.S. Green Building Council has awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to 10 of the University’s new and renovated buildings in the past nine years. The President received the Newton Marasco Foundation’s inaugural Leading Environmental Stewardship Award.
Every year during her tenure, SU has been one of The Princeton Review’s Best Colleges and U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Regional Universities in the North.” The campus also is consistently named a “Best Value” by Forbes, Money and Washington Monthly.
Her expertise and opinions have been featured in such national publications as Public Purpose, The Chronicle of Higher Education and University Business. She has served on the boards of directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education, and is active in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Slate spotlighted her among top university executives who understood the importance of engaging with students.
The Maryland Daily Record three times named Dudley-Eshbach one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, inducting her into its Circle of Excellence. The newspaper named her an “Influential Marylander,” and she was the first university president honored as one of its “Most Admired CEOs” in 2012.
Prior to her arrival at SU, she served as president of Fairmont State University, the largest of the nine institutions in the State College System of West Virginia, and was provost at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Potsdam. Her teaching career began at Allegheny and Goucher colleges. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, she earned her Ph.D. from El Colegio de Mexico.
Dudley-Eshbach enjoys telling the story of her mother, a high school French teacher, who was shocked when her daughter choose to major in Spanish. “What can you do with a degree in Spanish?” she asked her daughter. On the 10th anniversary celebration of her presidency at SU, she told her mother, “This is what you can do with a degree in Spanish.”
For more information visit the SU website at salisbury.edu or call 410-543-6030.

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