“It’s time,” Ross told Crain’s. “I’ve worked with friends and professionals who have stepped down and I would always ask them why, and they would say, you will know when it’s time.”
Ross, who led the charge to open a medical school at CMU, does not plan to leave the university, though. He said he intends to return to the classroom in 2019 as a full-time tenured professor in educational leadership and accounting.
“I can’t give that up,” he said.
The university is working to hire a search firm to locate its 15th president, according to a news release from the CMU board of trustees. An advisory committee will include representatives from the trustees, faculty, administration, students, business and community leaders, and alumni. Open forums are also planned.
Ross announced his resignation in a letter circulated online that listed several points of pride and accomplishment during his tenure and looked forward to projects planned for the next six months, including breaking ground for the Center for Integrated Health Studies, finding a new chief diversity officer and celebrating the public launch of the second and largest capital campaign in the university’s history.
The campaign was launched in 2014 and is expected to close in 2021, two years ahead of schedule. It will go public in April. Ross said in the past three years the school has received more million dollar donations than at any other point in its history. He and his wife donated $1 million in September for scholarship endowments.
“I have done much soul-searching about the right time to make this transition — the right time for CMU, which will forever hold a special place in my and Elizabeth’s hearts,” Ross said in a written statement on his and his wife’s mindset. “The decision came closer as I realized there is no perfect time for leadership change, because a vibrant, successful university always will be pursuing major initiatives.”
Ross also mentioned the recent birth of his first grandchild as a motivating factor.
“I suspect my mind was made up the moment he wrapped his tiny fingers around mine,” Ross said.
He continued in the letter: “It has been a privilege to serve as your president. Mrs. Ross and I believe in you and in CMU.”