(From a Stevenson press release and staff interviews) After serving 16 years as President of Stevenson University, Kevin J. Manning, Ph.D., will retire in June 2017.
His presidency coincides with the most rapid period of expansion for the University that was originally founded as Villa Julie College in 1947. Manning guided the college through a 2008 name change and structural transformation that established it as Maryland’s third-largest independent university. During his tenure, the University’s enrollment has doubled to 4,200 students today, and the name Stevenson has become synonymous with career-focused education.
“It has been a real honor for me to serve the Stevenson community, including the board, cabinet, deans, faculty, and staff,” Manning said in a message sent to the campus on March 10. “However, it has been a special honor to see our students grow and evolve while at Stevenson for the past 16 years.”
Manning, 71, is a graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and holds a master’s from Shippensburg University and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The Ohio State University. His career in higher education spans more than 40 years. Prior to Stevenson, he served as Vice President for Development and College Relations at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania, and held key administrative positions at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and at Washington University in St. Louis.
Under Manning’s leadership, Villa Julie broke ground in 2003 for construction of its residential campus in Owings Mills. The first residence halls opened in 2004, and the acquisition of the former Colts and Ravens Training Facility in 2005 paved the way for a renewed focus on collegiate athletics. The Owings Mills campus is now home to residences for 2,000 students, a 35,000-square-foot gymnasium, 3,500-seat stadium, and the Howard S. Brown School of Business and Leadership. In 2011 Manning worked to acquire the former Shire Pharmaceuticals property adjacent to the Owings Mills campus to create Owings Mills North. Stevenson will open in summer 2016 a new 200,000-square-foot Academic Center for its schools of the sciences, design, and health professions on the site.
In 2008, Manning guided the college through its name change to Stevenson University, a process that crystalized the long-term vision and brand for the institution. Through this transformation, Manning also established a new university administrative structure that now includes six undergraduate schools and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
“Kevin is a great leader and a visionary, and we cannot say enough good things about his work guiding the expansion of Stevenson,” said James Stradtner, Esq., CFA, Chair of Stevenson’s Board of Trustees and Senior Advisor for Century Equity Partners. “Institutions are institutions in perpetuity, but some people leave an indelible mark on a university that sets the course and shapes it for decades to come. Kevin has done that for Stevenson University.”
Manning was pivotal in the creation of Stevenson’s Career ArchitectureSM process that helps students discover their personal core values, align them with their major selection and career goals, and design a strategic plan for their futures. He also worked to raise the university’s stature by adding new academic programs; building an NCAA Division III athletic powerhouse with 27 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s sports; and overseeing the largest capital campaign in the institution’s history, which raised $20.4 million.
“I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together over the past 16 years,” Manning said. “The creation of Stevenson University has been an exciting journey, but one which could have not been made without the dedication of many individuals—our board, staff, faculty, and so many others. Each has had an essential role in building what this University has become. I am truly humbled by that fact.”
Student response was rapid and stunned. “President Manning has devoted many year to this university, staying longer than the national average for a university president. Without him, we would not be Stevenson University,” said Lauren Novsak,a member of the class of 2019. Jan Donato, a member of the class of 2017, said, “His retirement was kind of unexpected. At first I didn’t know if it was real or not… It’s sad. All of these cool and exciting changes are happening because of him, and I hope he is here to see them completed.”
Kaitlyn Rollyson of the class of 2017 was also sad to hear of Manning’s departure. “We’re lucky enough here at Stevenson to actually know who our president is. He makes himself known by attending sporting events, academic lectures, and other activities that go on. He will definitely be missed, and I hope our new president, whoever he or she is, learns from him and realizes the impact he made here at Stevenson.”