Appointed in May 2015, Bair was the first female president in the Eastern Shore school’s 234-year history. She helped institute several student debt reduction programs aimed at making a degree more accessible.
“Her work on behalf of both this institution, and the nation’s undergraduate population as a whole, to diminish our national student debt crisis has been remarkable, and we both thank and commend President Bair for her dedication to improving access to high-quality education for all students,” said Washington’s Board of Visitors and Governors Chair H. Lawrence Culp Jr. in a statement.
Bair served from 2006 to 2011 at the chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, where she helped manage the U.S. government’s response to the recent financial crisis. She served as a senior adviser to the Pew Charitable Trusts before coming to Washington College, where she worked to make college more accessible.
“Our generation has had the responsibility in government and business, and I don’t think we’ve done a great job with the financial system,” Bair told The Baltimore Sun in a 2015 interview. “We’ve given our young people an economy that presents challenges for them. I want to make sure they don’t suffer undue financial burdens when they enter the financial world.”
Blair, who has two children, said she is ending her time three years early to be closer to her family.
“Unfortunately, this job has required that I be away from my family quite a bit, and I underestimated the hardship that would create when I took up leadership of the college,” she said in a statement Thursday.
While serving as Washington’s president, she helped create a program to match scholarship dollars to every dollar spent out of a family’s 529 or Education Savings Account, and the George’s Brigade, a scholarship program for low-income students. The program had 14 first-generation students complete their freshman year last year, according to school officials. Next fall, 20 more students are expected to benefit from the scholarships.
Under her leadership, the school also adopted “Fixedfor4,” which froze tuition costs for students during their four years at the college.
The school has also started the “Dam the Debt” initiative during Bair’s tenure. It has awarded $659,000 in “back-end” scholarships to graduating seniors to help pay of their federal student loans, school officials said.
Bair’s resignation will take effect June 30.