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Towson University president announces departure for University of Louisville; search for replacement begins

Towson University’s president announced plans to leave the Baltimore County school to lead a prominent Kentucky university Wednesday morning.

Kim Schatzel, 66, who became president of Towson University in 2016, will become University of Louisville’s 19th president starting Feb. 1.

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“There’s no question that President Schatzel’s departure from Towson University and from the University System of Maryland (USM) is a loss for us,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman in an email. “The fact that Dr. Schatzel was tapped to head a university as nationally prominent as UofL, as highly regarded, speaks to her enormous talent and drive, which we’ve seen up close since she was named TU’s leader nearly seven years ago.”

Kim Schatzel, Towson University president, speaks at a 2019 event.

The university system’s Board of Regents will take up the search for the next Towson University president. An interim leader also will be named for the university.

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Under Schatzel’s leadership, the university expanded campus facilities as part of the largest capital investment in the school’s history. State leaders funded the expansions and renovations with $1 billion.

Additionally, Towson’s student body became more diverse, now having the second-largest population of students of color in Maryland. The university also closed the achievement gap between Black and Latino students compared with their white classmates, according to Perman’s email.

Meanwhile, as Schatzel leaves Towson after six years, she’s pledged to make a long-term commitment to the University of Louisville. Her unanimous selection by trustees ended a nearly yearlong search for a successor to ex-President Neeli Bendapudi, whose departure for the top job at Penn State University came as a shock to Louisville officials.

“I want to make it real clear — you’re stuck with me,” Schatzel said at a news conference. “This is a fabulous institution; this is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Schatzel previously served as provost of Eastern Michigan University and dean of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Business. She is also a professor of marketing.

She said she plans to spend the first few weeks at Louisville on a “listening tour,” gathering input from the university community and beyond. She promised a team approach to broaden the university’s impact as an “anchor institution” for Louisville and the state.

She said she looks forward to working with “our campus and community partners to advance U of L’s reputation as a preeminent institution nationally recognized for its excellence in research and scholarly work, education, inclusive student success, innovation, the arts and athletics.”

Introducing herself to the campus, Schatzel pointed to her own experience as a first-generation college student in her family — “just like one out of three U of L students today.”

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“I see myself in them, and I am a real-life example of the transformative power of higher education — all in one generation,” she said. “I hope that when I visit with those students, cheer with our students, listen to their musical performances and applaud their plays, when they share their research and share their art with me, I hope they see themselves in me.”

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She also brings a vast amount of private-sector experience to the job, having spent about 20 years as a corporate leader and entrepreneur in the technology and advanced manufacturing sectors. Schatzel founded and served as the president, chief operating officer and later CEO of a multinational advanced manufacturing firm, according to a news release.

Lori Stewart Gonzalez, who served as Louisville’s interim president since December 2021, will return to her previous leadership role as executive vice president and university provost, the school said.

Mary Nixon, the university’s board chair, said Schatzel brings “the best of many worlds to the U of L community.” The many factors considered during the presidential search included finding someone willing to make a commitment to the university for “the long haul,” Nixon said.

“We all had a shock last December when Dr. Bendipudi resigned unexpectedly,” she said.

Schatzel said she plans to spend “at least 10 years” in the Louisville community, stressing it takes time to make transformational change at a university. She shrugged off her age, noting that she ran a half-marathon last year in 2 hours and 19 minutes at age 65.

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“So I’ll be OK in my 70s,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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