President Lapidus to retire at end of academic year

October 23, 2023
President Lapidus speaks with students on the quad

Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus announced Monday that he will retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

President Lapidus, who joined Fitchburg State in July 2015, is the university’s 11th leader. His tenure has included the creation of new academic programs including the expansion of online offerings, deepening ties between the campus and its host community, and guiding the university through the challenges of the global pandemic. During his time as president, Fitchburg State’s institutional accreditation was renewed and a new strategic plan was adopted.

“From the day I first interviewed for the position on campus, I knew that Fitchburg State was a special place, and it has been an honor to have contributed to its positive evolution,” President Lapidus wrote. “This is a campus of dedicated individuals who care deeply about our students, and as I have said many times, each of you makes a difference every day and for that I can’t be more appreciative.”

C. Deborah Phillips, chair of the Board of Trustees, said it has been an honor and a privilege to serve during President Lapidus’ tenure. She cited his navigation of the university during the pandemic as an example of his contributions to the Fitchburg State community. 

 “During the COVID -19 health crisis, President Lapidus demonstrated strong and compassionate leadership as the university faced uncharted territory,” Phillips said. “Because of his foresight in upgrading the university’s technology platforms in the years prior to the COVID crisis, Fitchburg State was uniquely positioned for the virtual teaching and learning environment essential for the campus community to function during those uncertain days and months. Not only did the university function during COVID, but new ways of serving the student body were developed, new programs were implemented, and even new traditions were established. For nine years President Lapidus has led Fitchburg State with calmness and agility. His intuitive and gracious leadership will be missed, but he leaves the university well positioned to face the challenges ahead. I know I speak for the entire Board of Trustees when I say, ‘Thank you, Rich, for your service to this great institution.’”

A comprehensive national search will be undertaken for President Lapidus’ successor.

Founded in 1894, Fitchburg State has more than 30 undergraduate programs and 22 master's degree programs, and 6,000 full and part-time students. Learn more at akomegasjsu.com.

The full text of President Lapidus’ announcement to the campus is below.

Dear Campus Community,

I write to you this morning to inform you that I have notified the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Commissioner of Higher Education that I will be retiring from my position as president of Fitchburg State University effective June 30, 2024. I have thoroughly enjoyed my 33 years in higher education, with what will be the last nine at Fitchburg State.  

After much consideration, I have concluded that the time is right for me to spend more time with family and friends and to pursue other interests outside the university. From the day I first interviewed for the position on campus, I knew that Fitchburg State was a special place, and it has been an honor to have contributed to its positive evolution. This is a campus of dedicated individuals who care deeply about our students, and as I have said many times, each of you makes a difference every day and for that I can’t be more appreciative.  

As a community, we have accomplished much good work together. We have added new academic programs and reconfigured curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels. We have fostered an increasingly diverse community and embrace initiatives that support a sense of belonging and inclusiveness on our campus. We have modernized facilities to enhance learning and extracurricular opportunities, and strengthened our role as a steward of place in our host city and region. For our collective efforts, we have been recognized with a renewed 10-year accreditation by NECHE. Our 2020-25 strategic plan provides guidance in support of our mission and values, and is well aligned to the Department of Higher Education’s Strategic Plan for Racial Equity. It has not always been easy, particularly having to navigate through a health crisis, but I am confident that Fitchburg State is positively situated with a bright future ahead and that the next president will be well positioned to lead the university forward.

To our students, you are why we are all here. I am always inspired by your drive to succeed and improve who you are, both academically and as individuals. You have taught me a great deal about life and challenged me to consider new ideas and perspectives that I had not considered, and for that I am grateful. You have helped me to grow. 

There is still much work to do together over the remaining academic year, and I will continue to maintain my focus on serving the needs of the campus community. I will assist the campus and our Board of Trustees as they work to identify the next university president, and to ensure a seamless transition.

Again, I want to thank you for the privilege I was given to serve you and extend my appreciation to everyone for your support during my presidency. While my time will end on campus, the memories and friendships formed will remain forever.

Best,

Rich

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