Kettering President James John to retire

Mar 18, 2004

After 13 years of distinguished service, Kettering President James John has announced his plans to retire.

Dr. James E.A. John, President of Kettering University, has announced his plan to retire in June 2005.

The progress made under Dr. John's leadership has been nothing short of dramatic, said Jane L. Warner, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "He was the right individual at the right time," she said. While continuing the outstanding reputation for academic excellence, Dr. John has also transformed the campus, significantly improved the university's financial situation, revamped the school's leadership, established key initiatives to attract and retain a diverse student body and held leadership offices in various national organizations.

 When Dr. John arrived in 1991, it was to become President of GMI Engineering & Management Institute, a world renowned cooperative engineering college. The school, which had been wholly owned by General Motors and taken private nine years earlier, contained a campus with three buildings, bounded by aging manufacturing and retail facilities. Upperclass students lived off campus with freshmen occupying dorms without air conditioning. With an eye toward furthering pride in the campus and better serving students, a master plan was created which guided the investment into the construction of the Connie and Jim John Recreation Center, the C.S. Mott Engineering and Science Center, Campus Village student apartments, and the Harris playing fields with the Miller golf center. Land was donated by Delphi and General Motors for a research park, and air conditioning of the dorm was accomplished.

Realizing these dreams required planning and funding. The school's name was changed to Kettering University in 1998 to encourage and reflect the more than 700 companies sponsoring cooperative students and to recognize the support and encouragement that Charles F. (Boss) Kettering, former head of R&D at GM, gave the school in the early years. Dr. John led the establishment of the first strategic plan which strongly advocated research and established the concept of centers of excellence to bring financial support. The related capital campaign brought $100 million in funding to the university while the endowment was increased to $45 million from $9.0 million.

To accomplish these results, Dr. John formed a strong leadership team and completely changed the administration of the university, hiring all new vice presidents to join John Lorenz, Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Provost.

To further encourage and support diversity in the student population, Dr. John established the Office of Minority Student Affairs and, as a result, Kettering's retention of minority students is one of the best in the country. He also initiated the Women's Resource Center and established the Office of Women's Programs, which has helped to enhance recruitment and retention of women students. Dr. John revitalized programs for alumni, personally visiting alumni throughout the country and abroad. They subsequently became a resource for co-op jobs, new students and donations.

Dr. John's initiatives also extend globally with Kettering University being one of the first technologically oriented universities to initiate student exchange programs with international universities. Currently 100 of Kettering's students spend a term abroad each year and 100 international students come to Kettering. The largest international program, located in Baden Wurttemberg, Germany, is in its tenth year. Domestically, he has grown graduate programs and added B.S. degrees in math, physics, chemistry, computer science and computer engineering.

As validation of his efforts, Kettering has retained its academic excellence under Dr. John's leadership and is currently listed in Princeton Review as one of the best Midwestern Colleges, in Kaplan's as tops in preparing students for employment and in the U.S. News and World Report as one of the best undergraduate engineering schools. Statistics also show that a large number of Kettering graduates become CEOs.

Dr. John has also shared his leadership capability with other schools and organizations. He served as a member of the board of the National Commission for Cooperative Education and chaired the board for three years. He currently chairs the Association of Independent Technological Universities, is vice-chair of the board of Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and has served on the boards of both SAE and the SAE Foundation. True to his engineering roots, he is currently co-authoring the Prentice-Hall complete third edition of the textbook on Gas Dynamics.

Dr. John is expected to stay through June 2005 or until a successor is chosen.