Statement from Chancellor Wrighton to Board of Trustees


Transition Ahead
A Statement from the Chancellor to the Board of Trustees

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton
October 6, 2017

Twenty two years ago to the day, on October 6, 1995, I was formally installed as the 14th Chancellor of Washington University.  I have concluded that it is now time for the Board of Trustees to initiate a search for my successor, and I have shared this with the Executive Committee.  We have nine months to complete our fundraising campaign, Leading Together:  The Campaign for Washington University.  It is my plan to continue as Chancellor until the end of the Campaign and to serve no more than one additional year.  Thus, it is my expectation that my successor will assume the chancellorship no later than July 1, 2019.  Craig Schnuck will lead the process to select my successor.

I am proud of the progress that has been made at Washington University during my years as Chancellor – much has been accomplished thanks to strong, effective leaders across the university.  The university and I have benefitted from the achievements and continuing mentorship from Chancellor William Danforth who preceded me.

Today is not the time for an extensive review, but I note three areas of especially significant programmatic achievement.  First, with an enormous team effort, we have attracted an outstanding and diverse student body at the undergraduate level.  Our undergraduates are competitive with students at America’s finest colleges and universities, and our undergraduate experience has earned a reputation as one of the finest.

Second, with leadership from key leaders in the School of Medicine, particularly from Dr. Timothy Eberlein, and with magnificent philanthropic support from Trustee Alvin Siteman and many others, the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center was created and has grown into one of the nation’s great centers of research and patient care. The Siteman Cancer Center is currently the third largest cancer center in the United States in terms of new patients and is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Third, thanks to the leadership of Professor James V. Wertsch and extremely generous financial support and wise counsel from Trustee John McDonnell, we have developed the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.  This initiative is unique in the world, and it brings Washington University into partnership with premier research universities around the world to address major global challenges.

Thanks to David Blasingame and his team, we have brought quality and sustainability to our faculty and staff by attracting gifts for nearly 300 endowed professorships, deanships, directorships and coaching positions.  We have attracted more than $500 million in endowment for financial aid, and the physical infrastructure of our campuses has been expanded and improved with more than 50 new buildings.

Every part of the University has become stronger, thanks to dedicated and creative leadership of our school deans, our distinguished faculty, our talented staff, and our outstanding students.  Major interdisciplinary initiatives have been launched, including the Institute for Public Health, the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics, the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, and most recently the Living Earth Collaborative.

There is much we have accomplished.  But much work remains to be done in order for Washington University to achieve its full promise and potential.  There are many current initiatives and new ones will be planned and pursued that will strengthen the quality and impact of the University.

Risa and I thank you for the privilege of serving in our leadership roles and for the exceptional wisdom, financial support, hard work and friendship extended to us during our years of service.  There is no finer Board of Trustees anywhere.  We will remain devoted to improving the University in the era ahead.

And by the way, I am Chancellor until I am not!  I will continue to do my best to serve the university as Chancellor until my successor is in place.