Sanford J. Ungar, the president of Goucher College, plans to resign next summer after 13 years at the head of the Towson school, according to a letter circulated to faculty, staff and students Friday.
The letter, addressed to board of trustees chairwoman Norma Lynn Fox, offered no reason for Ungar's decision but noted the "many political, financial, and curricular challenges" liberal arts colleges are facing.
"I believe Goucher is well-positioned to deal with these issues, but I also feel it is time for the college to seek a new leader who can bring his or her own experience and perspective to bear and move this remarkable institution forward," Ungar wrote.
Ungar, who has been the college's president since July 2001, wrote that he plans for his resignation to take effect on June 30, 2014, and that after a sabbatical he hopes to return to the 1,500-student school and teach in the history and communications and media studies departments.
"My time leading Goucher has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career and my life," Ungar wrote. "Goucher students, as I have learned, are among the very best in the business — innovative, highly motivated individuals, and independent thinkers who will make a major difference in the world when they leave us."
After he informed them of his departure, Goucher faculty reflected on his tenure, which some said was marked by bold visions like a study-abroad requirement he instituted.
"For more than a decade, Sandy Ungar has been Goucher College's greatest advocate," said La Jerne Terry Cornish, the college's faculty chair and chair of the education department. "Committed to the liberal arts tradition, he made the college more distinctive. While news of his departure is bittersweet, we are thankful for his years of dedicated service to Goucher College and its community of learners."
Some saw Ungar, a former National Public Radio host without a Ph.D., as an unusual choice to run the former women's college, but under his leadership applications to Goucher climbed — so much that the school faced housing shortages in the middle of the last decade.
Ungar joined the school with the aim of making it a more international institution, and in 2006 the college started requiring every graduate to study abroad, a move that attracted national attention to the small school.
"There is much in the past dozen years of which we can all be proud," he wrote in the letter. "That every Goucher student has at least one overseas educational experience truly makes this college distinctive among its peers and competitors, and gives our students a great comparative advantage."
Ungar was previously the dean of the School of Communication at American University and had worked in magazines and newspapers.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erica Green contributed to this report.