(BEAUMONT) - After more than 40 years at Lamar University, the last 14 as president, James M. “Jimmy” Simmons will be stepping down from the top spot. Simmons announced today he will retire from the presidency effective Jan. 31, 2013.
“President Simmons has guided Lamar through one of the brightest periods in its 89-year history and has positioned the university for even greater accomplishments ahead,” said Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall, who joined Simmons in making the announcement. “As we begin the process of searching for his successor, we are blessed with a university that is so much stronger, more resilient and more capable than it was before he became its president.”
As president, Simmons has led the university into a new era of dynamic growth. Momentum has been the watchword of his administration, a period in which enrollment recorded its largest increase in Lamar’s history, from 7,800 when he began to more than 14,500 students in fall 2011. Even in the wake of two major storms – Hurricanes Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008 – Simmons and his team kept classes and graduation on schedule, restoring the campus after major damage and adding state-of-the-art facilities.
Among his accomplishments is the significant growth in online education. By pairing innovative education delivery models with the university’s academic excellence, Simmons has made LU a recognized leader in online education in the state and beyond. More than 30 percent of Lamar’s semester credit hours are generated by online courses. The university further increased the scope of its online offerings by adding six new online programs this year.
The process of selecting the next president of Lamar University will begin immediately. An outside search firm will conduct a nationwide search for candidates, and an advisory committee appointed by the chairman of the Board of Regents of The Texas State University System will narrow the field of candidates to three. The advisory committee will include members of the TSUS Board of Regents, Lamar University faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. Chancellor Brian McCall will then recommend a sole finalist to the Board of Regents.