Sternberg quits as UW president

Nov 15, 2013 By Bob Moen, The Associated Press

The highly-touted administrator was on the job less than five months.

LARAMIE -- Dr. Robert Sternberg resigned as president of the University of Wyoming on Thursday, ending his tenure that lasted just over four months after taking over as president of the state's only four-year university.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Sternberg said he decided to resign because he didn't feel he had the full support of the Board of Trustees. "You can't have anything but full daylight between you and the board," he said.

The UW Board of Trustees accepted his resignation without any opposition, according to UW spokesman Chad Baldwin.

Word of Sternberg's resignation followed an all-day, closed-door meeting of the board. Sternberg had been criticized in recent days over some of his early management decisions, although he had been well-received statewide on tours of Wyoming communities over the past 30 days.

Gov. Matt Mead gave his full support to the trustees and their decisions on overseeing the university.

"Given President Sternberg's decision, I believe the Board of Trustees has developed a good plan to move forward," Mead said in a statement.

UW veterinary science professor Donal O'Toole, a member of the UW Faculty Senate, said he was pleased and relieved to hear of Sternberg's resignation. "I don't know everybody on the Faculty Senate, but I think the Faculty Senate will also be relieved at what has transpired," O'Toole said.

Sternberg said he reached his decision to resign after having a discussion Wednesday evening with trustees President Dave Bostrom. Sternberg said Bostrom did not pressure him or suggest the he resign.

"It was totally my decision based on the conversation," he said.

Sternberg said his experience at UW has been "great" and that he was "sorry things didn't work out."

Sternberg took over the job on July 1. Since then, five administrators, including the provost, and three deans decided to leave their jobs. Some left because of differences with Sternberg, while others left for other reasons.

The pushback became more intense and more public when law school dean Steve Easton submitted his resignation Oct. 31 and openly challenged Sternberg's management and ethics.

Sternberg defended the changes he made.

"I did what I thought needed to be done, and anything I did had board approval," he said. "I didn't just go out on my own."

Bostrom said the board "endorses the personnel changes" and appreciates Sternberg's sensitivity to the overall needs of the university and its future. "We are grateful for what Bob has done for our institution and wish him the very best in his future endeavors," he said.

Sternberg was hired on a three-year contract with an annual base salary of $425,000. His resignation is effective Dec. 31. The university said he will be paid $425,000 this year, and $325,000 next year.

Dick McGinity, UW's vice president for academic affairs, will take over performing the duties of president, effective immediately.

"The board has complete confidence in Dr. McGinity and his team to carry on the administrative functions of the university and move the institution forward while we consider how to proceed with a presidential search," Bostrom said.

McGinity said he takes the position with "some regret" and hopes to "restore a sense of calm and stability."

McGinity said he would not rescind any of Sternberg's personnel decisions.

Sternberg came to UW from Oklahoma State University, where he had served as provost and senior vice president. He also had served as an academic dean at Tufts University. He holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford. He was chosen as the successor to former UW President Tom Buchanan, who retired.

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