Last week, Slippery Rock University President Cheryl Norton announced her retirement through an email sent to the entire student body and SRU faculty and staff. The email included a heartfelt message from Norton herself in which she stated the she and her husband Henry “have been privileged to be part of the Slippery Rock University community.”
Norton, whose retirement will come into effect on June 30, 2017, was SRU’s 16th and first female president, having been inaugurated in 2012. Despite being faced with criticism over her stance on the recent APSCUF strike, Norton enjoyed some success during her short tenure as university president.
Like all schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), Slippery Rock was faced with some serious economic issues over the recent years. In the heat of it all, SRU was still able to be among the most financially stable PASSHE institutions and was praised by the chancellor and the state’s board of governors for its ability to remain afloat during the troubling economic period.
Norton was also the president in charge of SRU when enrollment numbers reached an all-time high, peaking this fall semester with a total of 8,881 students.
Now, it’s apparent that SRU will eventually catch up with the rest of the universities in the state system and begin struggling financially and experience a decline in enrollment; this was going to be an issue that the university was going to face whether Norton remained president or not. The fact of the matter is that during an economic decline and a decline in high school graduates in the region, a large portion of those high school graduates simply chose Slippery Rock University ahead of other state system schools, buffering SRU’s numbers.
At this time, Slippery Rock University’s administration and board of governors must begin another grueling search for its next president, a process that will surely take over the majority of the next year or longer. As for her retirement, Norton will return to Denver with her husband and the two will celebrate their 46th year of marriage with the desire to train dogs for dog sledding once again, as they had done in the earlier years of their marriage.
No matter how people may view Cheryl Norton and her brief time at Slippery Rock, it seems that she genuinely did care about the best interest of its students and did the best she could during a difficult period. Despite differing opinions of how well she has handled the issues that have arisen during her presidency, Cheryl Norton has devoted her life to Slippery Rock University over the past four years, and that’s how she should be remembered.