Yien announces his retirement
National search begins for new vice president for Academic Affairs
September 12, 2005 —
Dr. Robert S.P. Yien, vice president for Academic Affairs for 27 years, announced his retirement Thursday, Aug. 25.
Yien plans to take a sabbatical after this academic year, which ends in June, and teach sociology at the University for another year or two before retiring from SVSU.
"I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to grow with this wonderful institution," Yien said.
The announcement came as no surprise to President Eric R. Gilbertson.
"Bob has been very candid with me about his plans for some time, of course, so I was not surprised when he made his announcement," Gilbertson said. "I knew it was coming, but I certainly wasn't looking forward to it. He's been one of my closest and most trusted colleagues for the past years as well as a good personal friend."
During the almost three decades under his leadership, the number of faculty has nearly tripled.
Reflecting over his many years of work, Yien cited one of his greatest accomplishments as the engineering program that began in 1978. He said he worked diligently for nine months and through 18 meetings to launch what is presently known as the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
"We're lucky that as the University grew and matured, Bob stayed with it and led through those transitions," Gilbertson added.
Yien utilized his philosophy on what his job entailed while at the University.
"A true understanding of undergraduates, commitment, experience, teaching, research, and service" are essential for carrying out the responsibilities as vice president for Academic Affairs, he said. "Quality and education are the two things that separate us from other institutions."
Due to the lack of commitment towards undergrads, Yien said, many other universities lose the quality of their undergraduate program because they focus so heavily on their graduate programs.
Within the next year, an advisory group chaired by Gilbertson and staffed by Dr. Carlos Ramet, executive assistant to the president, will conduct a nationwide search for Yien's successor.
According to Gilbertson, the position opening has been posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which features listing of open positions such as Yien's.
He expects applications to come in not only domestically, but internationally as well.
"My hope is to narrow down a list of candidates and conduct on-campus interviews by November," Gilbertson added. "I would like to have a selection by the end of fall semester so that the new vice president will have a chance to work with Bob before he leaves office."
"It is the advisory group's role to make that leap of imagination as it carefully considers and offers its views on both the nature of the position and candidates for the position," said Mary Harmon, professor of English and among the faculty and staff who sit on the advisory board.
Gilbertson was specific about what he will need in Yien's successor.
"What we'll be looking for is someone who can lead a team of five strong academic deans, manage a very complicated academic schedule and an extensive budget, and participate as a member of a team that is responsible for overall institutional leadership," he said.
"His retirement from administration is well-deserved," Harmon said. "Yet, it's hard to imagine Academic Affairs without him at the helm."