After two decades at the helm of one of Cincinnati's largest universities, Rev. Michael Graham will retire June 30, 2021 as president of Xavier University, he announced today at the school's annual spring convocation.
Graham is the school's 34th president over its almost 200-year history. He says it's a good time for him to leave because Xavier, a private Jesuit university, has never been in a stronger place.
"I will step down in 2021 because it is in the best interest of Xavier University for me to do so," he said. "Because the University has never been stronger than it is now, it has therefore never been better prepared to attract a visionary and capable leader.”
Xavier, founded in 1831, saw almost 7,000 students enroll last year.
The school has convened a search committee for its next president led by board of trustees member and Xavier alumna Barbara Howard. The committee has hired recruitment firm Isaacson Miller to aid in its search.
“We offer our most sincere thanks and deepest appreciation to Fr. Graham for his remarkable leadership and distinguished career," Howard said in a statement today. "While the time ahead will certainly be used to say thank you to Fr. Graham, it is time to seek our next University leader. To be sure, we will hire a president who will carry on our Jesuit mission."
Graham began his career at Xavier as a history professor in 1984. He left the university to get a masters in divinity, but returned in 1994 as the school's vice president for university relations. He became executive assistant to then-Xavier President James E. Hoff in 1999 and became president in 2001.
During that time, he helped found the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, the Community Building Collaborative and the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning. Grahama also presided over more than $500 million in fundraising for the university during his tenure.
In a news release today, Graham pledged to remain active in Xavier's ongoing educational initiatives and fundraising efforts ahead of his retirement.
"The university will be extraordinarily well-positioned when… a new leader is on board to take a deep breath and go forward into its next chapter,” he said.