Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds will leave the institution at the end of June to become the 16th president of Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.
Millikin University is a private, comprehensive university with a diverse student population of some 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Its 75-acre residential campus is located in the central Illinois city of 72,000.
Reynolds became Wilmington’s 18th president in February 2012 after holding the position of interim president since the previous August. He joined the college’s senior administration in July 2007 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.
“Sue and I have loved our time at Wilmington College and are proud to have spent 13 years in the community with our students, staff, faculty, alumni and the greater Wilmington area,” he said. “What we do at the college is purposeful and meaningful to both of us and we will miss the many people who work so hard each day to provide a transformative education to our students.”
Millikin University holds a special appeal for Reynolds, whose hometown is Decatur.
“I grew up six blocks from the Millikin campus and to have the opportunity to be able to come back for the next chapter in my professional career is such an honor,” he added. “Sue and I look forward to being part of both the Millikin and Decatur communities.”
Reynolds also found several other factors as especially attractive, including that approximately 35 percent of Millikin’s student body is comprised of first-generation college students, a population that “is close to my heart” since he was the first in his family to attend college.
“Also, their approach to the curriculum is to provide intensive experiential learning opportunities for all students in a model they refer to as ‘Performance Learning’ — very much like the ‘Hands-on Learning’ model that we use at Wilmington College,” he said.
Reynolds informed the college’s faculty, staff and students Monday morning, sharing what he described as “mixed feelings of both joy and sadness.” He noted how, over the past 13 years, he and Sue have shared many joys and sorrows inherent with a campus community, while “always marveling at the good work that you do” on behalf of WC’s students.
“I have been proud to be part of Wilmington College and have done my best each day to make a positive difference for our students and campus community,” he said. “My greatest hope for Wilmington College is that it continues to be a place where good students are supported and nurtured by a caring staff and faculty in order to provide them with every opportunity for an exceptional life going forward after graduation.”
Reynolds will be leaving the college with a record of significant accomplishment and the institution is strategically well-placed for a prosperous future as it endeavors to realize its student-centric mission.
Some of the major achievements realized during Reynolds’ administration include the enrollment stabilization and growth over the past six years, which are highlighted by a pair of record incoming classes.
Also, the college attained successful reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, created a new campuswide strategic planning process and experienced the largest concurrent construction of new facilities in more than 50 years with the Center for Sport Sciences and Center for the Sciences and Agriculture.
In addition, new academic programs have been implemented ranging from exercise science and equine business management to a Master of Science in Athletic Training, with a pair of other graduate programs in development. The college successfully concluded the largest fundraising campaign in its history, Leave Your Mark, in 2017 by exceeding the $21 million goal.
Peggy Sturdivant, chair of the board of trustees, said preparations are underway for initiating a national search for Reynolds’ successor. She praised the president for his leadership as the college is enjoying a renaissance that includes enhanced fiscal stability in the face of the especially challenging landscape in independent higher education today.
“On behalf of the board, I wish to thank Jim for his outstanding service to Wilmington College, which he will leave this summer in a position of greater strength,” she said, noting the college has made “significant progress” under Reynolds’ leadership. “Jim and Sue have made an indelible mark of excellence upon our college.”
Submitted by Randall Sarvis, senior director of public relations, Wilmington College.