Steven­son’s pres­i­dent steps down

Man­ning over­saw vast changes, cites health rea­sons for re­tir­ing early

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Tim Pru­dente tpru­dente@balt­sun.com

When Pres­i­dent Kevin Man­ning ar­rived at what was then Villa Julie Col­lege 16 years ago, he found a sleepy com­muter school with­out dorms and only 1,600 stu­dents.

By the time he re­tired Tues­day, the school had grown to three cam­puses with 4,200 stu­dents and dou­ble its pre­vi­ous num­ber of un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grams. It had a new name, too: Steven­son Uni­ver­sity.

“If some­body just looked at the stats un­der Kevin’s lead­er­ship, it would be so im­pres­sive,” said Tina Bjarekull, pres­i­dent of the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent Col­lege and Uni­ver­sity As­so­ci­a­tion.

Man­ning had pre­vi­ously an­nounced plans to re­tire in June. The uni­ver­sity an­nounced Tues­day that he was re­tir­ing im­me­di­ately for health rea­sons.

“He thought it best to re­tire now in or­der to at­tend to some im­por­tant but man­age­able health is­sues,” James Stradt­ner, the board of trustees chair­man, said in a state­ment.

A uni­ver­sity spokesman de­clined to elab­o­rate. Man­ning was un­avail­able for ques­tions Tues­day.

Man­ning re­tires as the fourth pres­i­dent of the school, founded in 1947 to train women as nurses and sec­re­taries.

“It went from a small, pri­vate uni­ver­sity with a good rep­u­ta­tion to an in­cred­i­ble, vi­sion­ary cam­pus and ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter. I mean, he re­ally did it,” said Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil­woman Vicki Al­mond, whose dis­trict in­cludes Steven­son. “It’s just an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion for that uni­ver­sity. My hat’s off to him. I hate to see him go.”

Bjarekull re­mem­bered at­tend­ing a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for the cam­pus in Owings Mills. The site was just a dirt lot.

“If you go there now, it’s just a vi­brant col­lege cam­pus,” she said.

Man­ning over­saw the open­ing of the first res­i­dence halls in 2004; there are five dorms to­day. The school’s name was changed from Villa Julie to Steven­son in 2008. At the time, many stu­dents and alumni op­posed the name change. Man­ning ac­knowl­edged that the trans­for­ma­tion would be trau­matic.

“We are go­ing to get some phone calls and let­ters,” he said then.

The school grew from 66 acres to about 170 dur­ing Man­ning’s ten­ure. To­day, it of­fers more than 700 un­der­grad­u­ate and 100 grad­u­ate pro­grams, Bjarekull said. She has served as pres­i­dent of the in­de­pen­dent col­lege as­so­ci­a­tion for the past 14 years and tracked the growth at Steven­son.

“He is prob­a­bly one of the most in- K.J. Man­ning no­va­tive and dy­namic lead­ers we’ve seen,” she said.

Man­ning, 71, grad­u­ated from Web­ster Uni­ver­sity near St. Louis and has worked for more than 40 years in higher ed­u­ca­tion, hold­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tions at Im­mac­u­lata Uni­ver­sity and El­iz­a­beth­town Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia and Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in St. Louis.

This year, a 200,000 square-foot build­ing was fin­ished on the Owings Mills cam­pus and named the Kevin J. Man­ning Aca­demic Cen­ter.

The uni­ver­sity board of trustees has be­gun search­ing for the next pres­i­dent. The board ex­pects to name Man­ning’s re­place­ment in the spring, Stradt­ner said.

Un­til then Claire Moore, the vice pres­i­dent of stu­dent af­fairs and an alumna of the uni­ver­sity, will serve as in­terim pres­i­dent.

Still, Man­ning’s legacy will en­dure at Steven­son, Al­mond said.

“As far as I’m con­cerned,” she said, “he is Steven­son Uni­ver­sity.”

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