President of Lourdes leaving for Baldwin WallaceWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
Lourdes University will soon be searching for a new president.
Robert C. Helmer, who has been president since 2003, announced Feb. 13 that he will step down at the end of the 2011-2012 school year to take the helm at Baldwin Wallace College, a United Methodist institution located in Berea.
“There are certainly big shoes to fill,” said Mary Arquette, vice president for institutional advancement. Helmer began at Lourdes University in 1996 as an assistant professor in history. When he took over as president, enrollment had sunk to about 1,200 students and tuition was rising. Helmer decided to cut tuition by 41 percent and the number of students at the university has broken records for the past eight years. Enrollment is about 2,700 and tuition is now $15,000 a year, Arquette said.
The president has also overseen campus-wide changes from additional masters’ programs to buildings. Since 2006, the university has built a new student learning center, classroom building and dining hall. Masters’ programs have expanded to include nursing, theology, liberal students and organizational leadership, Arquette said. The university is also working toward creating a global studies program. The boost in enrollment, new programs and infrastructure helped to bolster the institution from college to university in August 2011.
Lourdes University will appoint a search committee to look for the next president. An interim president will take lead throughout the 2012-2013 school year. “It will be bittersweet; we are so proud of Bob and his accomplishments here,” Arquette said. “And we will carry on his vision and the mission of Lourdes for our students.”