Donald P. Wharton, the President of Plymouth State University announced this morning at a meeting of faculty and staff his retirement effective June 30, 2006. University System of New Hampshire Chancellor Stephen Reno and Board of Trustees’ Chairman Andrew Lietz are planning a search so a new president can be in place in time for the beginning of the 2006-07 academic year.
Dr. Wharton is in his 13th year as president and is the 13th president at Plymouth State. He has been the steward of significant changes at the institution, including the transition in 2003 from Plymouth State College to Plymouth State University.
In making his announcement, President Wharton praised the faculty and staff for their many contributions to the University and for their assistance to him during his tenure. “When I came to Plymouth State in 1993,” Wharton said, “I promised the campus and trustees I would ‘leave the wood pile higher than I found it.’ Whatever I have done in that regard was made possible by the wonderful work of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of this great University.”
Eugene Savage, Plymouth State University Class of ’58 and member of the University System Board, has been appointed by Board Chairman Lietz to chair the search committee for the next president. “President Wharton has served with distinction during his tenure and great changes have taken place in the academic areas, in fundraising, and in major physical plant improvements,” Savage said.
“Dr. Wharton has raised admissions standards and improved the academic performance profile of the student body. Those actions have significantly improved student retention, which in turn has resulted in higher enrollments for the University,” Trustee Savage continued. “In the fall of 2001, Dr. Wharton formed the President’s Council with membership consisting of alumni and friends of the University to enhance the fundraising capacity of the institution. In 2002, the Expanding Our Reach campaign was launched with a goal of $5 million; as of today, more than $7.5 million has been raised.”
Under Dr. Wharton’s leadership the Plymouth State campus has changed significantly—adding new buildings such as the Hartman Union Building, Lamson Library, the Draper Maynard building, Prospect Dining Hall, and most recently the Boyd Science Center. In addition, the demolition of the old power plant and associated buildings and construction of the co-generation facility created more green space and the conversion of town streets to campus walkways. This past spring the University broke ground for the new Langdon Woods Student Housing Complex, which will add 347 new beds to campus housing in an effort to have a larger percentage of students reside on campus.
President Wharton stated that he had last year approached the University System’s Chancellor Reno and Board Chair Lietz with his intention to retire at the of end of the 2004-05 academic year, but had at their request agreed to serve one further term until June 30, 2006.
“Don Wharton’s mix of energy, confidence and compassion has helped him move Plymouth State University forward in too many ways to cite. His impact on this institution during his long tenure will impact present and future students for years to come,” said Andrew Lietz. “President Wharton demonstrated his commitment to the University System as a whole by staying on an extra year, and by doing so, we were able to focus on the hiring of a new president for Keene State College, and the launch of other major initiatives within the System.”
Dr. Wharton came to Plymouth State in 1993 from North Dakota where he was Dean of Arts and Sciences and subsequently Vice President for Academic Affairs at Minot State University, and then as special assistant to the Chancellor of the North Dakota University System.
Since Dr. Wharton’s arrival in 1993 the University has added new programs such as communications and criminal justice. Graduate school enrollment has increased 25 percent over the last four years and has recently added five new masters programs in the past two years. The University has also adopted a new General Education program.
Following the Board of Trustees decision to “re-commission” the College for Lifelong Learning, now Granite State College, Dr. Wharton has been a principal partner in efforts to identify higher education needs across the state, especially in the Lakes Region and North Country.
Originally from Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, Dr. Wharton earned his bachelors degree at the University of Notre Dame, a masters degree in library science from University of Pittsburgh and masters and doctorate in English from Penn State University. He was a member of the faculty at the Altoona campus of Penn State from 1970 to 1981 and associate academic dean at Castleton State College from 1981-84, prior to moving to North Dakota. Dr. Wharton serves on the boards of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation-North Country, the North Country Council, and the New Hampshire College and University Council.
President Wharton and his wife Carol have four children and five grandsons. Following his retirement in June, President and Mrs. Wharton will reside in Landaff, New Hampshire.