University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Juliette B. Bell will resign at the end of June, she announced Monday.
Bell’s resignation will end a six-year tenure at the historically black college, which has struggled with enrollment.
“Though a difficult one, this is a decision I reached after much thought and prayer,” Bell wrote in a letter to the university’s community. “This is UMES’ season for growth and continued excellence as a Doctoral University as it embarks on a new strategic plan and a new capital fundraising campaign.”
During Bell’s tenure, the Princess Anne university worked to grow its doctoral programs, including graduating its first doctor of pharmacy cohort in 2013. In 2016, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designated the university a Doctoral University, producing more than 20 doctoral research graduates a year.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore successfully reaffirmed its accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and received specialized accreditation of its engineering, pharmacy and golf management programs.
The university also worked to increase its fundraising and grew its endowment 45 percent to $26.2 million at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Fundraising during her tenure included two $1 million donations, one each from Delmarva Power and the Richard A. Henson Foundation.
“For more than five years, Juliette has courageously guided the University of Maryland Eastern Shore through a time of profound change, both for that institution and for higher education,” Robert Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said in a statement. “Juliette never wavered in her passion for and dedication to UMES’ history and mission of providing student-centered educational opportunities that foster multicultural diversity, academic success, and intellectual and social growth while preparing graduates to address challenges in a global knowledge-based economy.”
The university’s enrollment struggled under Bell’s tenure, as it has at the University System of Maryland’s other small schools, Coppin State University and Frostburg State University.
In the fall of 2011, the year before Bell took over as president, the university enrolled more than 4,500 students, both full time and part time. In the fall of 2016, the last year for which data is available, enrollment had fallen to just over 3,900.
The University System of Maryland will begin its search for a new president within the next couple of weeks, Caret said.
Bell is the second system president to announce she will leave her position this year. Salisbury University’s Janet Dudley-Eshbach announced her retirement last year.
In addition to spending more time with her family, Bell said, she plans to write a book about her life from “the cotton fields of Alabama to the heights of my career as a scientist and academician.”