Austin College President Marjorie Hass announced on December 12, 2016 that she will leave the College, effective June 30, after eight years of leading the transformative growth of one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the 15th president of Austin College, and I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve together,” said Dr. Hass. “The College is at a moment in time when new leadership will be able to build on everything we have accomplished in this last decade and bring energy and vision to the work that is ahead.”
Hass has been named the next president of Rhodes College, a liberal arts institution of about 2,000 students in Memphis, Tennessee. She succeeds Dr. William E. Troutt and assumes her duties on July 1, 2017. She and her husband, Dr. Lawrence Hass, will move to Memphis after she completes her term as president of Austin College this summer.
“Marjorie’s passionate commitment to building on the quality liberal arts education offered by Austin College has enhanced the profile of this institution at all levels,” said David Corrigan, chair of the Austin College Board of Trustees. “She has never wavered in working with the board and the greater community to achieve the shared vision that has created a bright future for Austin College and we are well-positioned as we begin the search for new leadership.”
Next Steps for Austin College
Scott Austin, a 1983 graduate of Austin College and a member of the Board of Trustees, has been appointed by Corrigan to lead a search committee for the 16th president. The committee will include representatives from key constituencies, including the board, faculty, staff and students. “I am confident we will find the right person to draw upon the many achievements of the last decade and the vision for Austin College that Marjorie has helped develop and shape, and to lead us into the future,” said Austin. “Clearly, Marjorie has done an extraordinary job of enhancing the educational experience we offer. We are well-positioned to continue forward, and are excited about the future for this great institution.”
Since joining Austin College as president in July 2009, Hass has brought extraordinary vision and leadership to the campus and the #ROONATION represented by alumni and friends globally. The College has continued to cultivate a culture of academic excellence and a commitment to educational access for talented students regardless of financial background. The footprint of the campus has been enhanced by the construction of high-end residential housing along Grand Avenue and construction of the IDEA Center, a 100,000-square-foot LEED® Gold-certified science complex housing the largest research-grade telescope in the region.
Since 2009, the College has undertaken a systematic strategic planning effort, resulting in considerable growth in the size and strength of the College’s applicant pool as well as increased retention, increased environmental sustainability of the institution, and a significant improvement in the College’s financial position. Fundraising has exceeded $80M, including the recently received gift of $7M, a portion of which establishes the Austin College Scarborough Center for Writing.
President Hass has brought national attention to Austin College by serving as the chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and on the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC). Statewide representation includes her work with the Texas Women in Higher Education conference and serving on the board of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT). She also represents Austin College locally by serving on the Texoma Medical Center Board of Directors and on the Board of Trustees of The Hockaday School in Dallas.
Prior to joining Austin College, Dr. Hass spent more than 16 years as a member of the faculty and administration at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Penn. She joined Muhlenberg in 1993 as an assistant professor of philosophy, rising to the rank of associate professor in 1998 and full professor in 2005. Hass was the Director of the Center for Ethics from 2000-03 and served as interim dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs in 2003-04. She was appointed provost in 2005, a position she held until she was named president of Austin College in 2009.
Dr. Hass holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her husband, Lawrence, is professor of humanities at Austin College, former professor of philosophy and theater arts at Muhlenberg College, and an internationally celebrated sleight-of-hand magician and teacher of magicians. The couple has two adult children. Cameron, 27, is a program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research in Princeton, New Jersey. Jessica, 22, is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas, Arlington.
About Austin College
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.