COLUMBIA — Gerald Brouder, the 16th president of Columbia College, announced his retirement Thursday in front of about 200 people at Atkins-Holman Student Commons on the school's campus.
"I have no greater pride and satisfaction than to have served this fine institution," Brouder, who turns 70 next month, said. His retirement is effective Aug. 1.
Prior to Brouder's presidency, which began in 1995, he spent 17 years at MU in a variety of administrative roles.
According to a 1992 Columbia Daily Tribune article, Brouder received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois, a master's degree from Northern Illinois University and a doctorate from the University of Texas-Austin. All of Brouder's degrees were in nursing — a profession he devoted himself to for many years.
In a 1977 Missourian profile, Brouder said he pursued nursing while serving in the military's Medical Corp. As an operating room technician, he received less pay than the nurses, "... so I decided to upgrade myself," he said in the Missourian profile.
Brouder, the first male teacher at the MU School of Nursing, expressed concern about misogyny in the nursing profession 35 years ago.
"Many male nurses are given breaks or promoted simply because they are men which helps no one," he said in the 1977 article.
Brouder eventually served as interim dean of the MU School of Nursing, the Tribune article said.
He later served at MU as interim chancellor, deputy chancellor and provost, according to a Columbia College news release.
Richard Montgomery, vice chairman of the board of trustees at Columbia College, said he was one of the members of the search committee that appointed Brouder as the president.
"He had the best credentials, and he is a successful educator," Montgomery said. "He does things for the right reasons, and he has grown this college to be the jewel of the state and one of the jewels of the nation."
Michael Kateman, chief communications officer of Columbia College, said Brouder's commitment to advancing liberal arts and science education has bolstered the college throughout his presidency.
"His collective vision for college was to become a model institution operating within the arena of civility and respect," Kateman said. "These core values do indeed permeate all that we do at Columbia College."
Brouder, in his inaugural address on Sept. 15, 1995, said the priorities for his presidency would include broadening and deepening the sciences, growing the endowment, increasing academic rigor, enhancing technology on campus and expanding curricula, Kateman said.
Since Brouder's tenure, Columbia College has made $53 million in property acquisitions, constructions and renovations in Columbia and at its 35 nationwide campuses, Kateman said. The endowment has also grown from $2.5 million in 1995 to more than $100 million, he said.
In August 2013, a 53,000-square-foot science center building with 126-seat auditorium, five general laboratories, eight advanced laboratories, five additional classrooms and 18 faculty offices will celebrate its grand opening as the “crown jewel of Gerald Brouder’s legacy,” Kateman said.
Columbia College's enrollment is more than 30,000 students, and it offers 10 associate degrees, 58 bachelor's degrees and four master's degrees. Its online courses had more than 23,000 students enrolled in the last academic year, according to figures provided by the college.
"During my tenure with an outstanding faculty and staff, we have worked together to make Columbia College a model institution, and together we have brought this college to a higher level of civility and respect," Brouder said.
Daisy Grossnickle, chair of the Columbia College board of trustees, is expected to appoint a search committee to identify a 17th president for Columbia College. Montgomery said the search committee will probably have six or seven members from the board of trustees, faculty and students, but the committee's makeup has not been confirmed.
Brouder said he could serve as president past Aug. 1 if a replacement is not found by that time.
Martha Eberhard, president of the Columbia College alumni association, said Brouder had been an important supporter of her organization. Prior to his presidency, she said, the alumni association had one employee, but six staff members now work together to reconnect about 74,000 alumni worldwide.
"It's great for him, but we are going to really miss his leadership," Eberhard said. "I have been connected to the school for 15 or 16 years, and he is all I've known."
Connie Crites, a junior majoring in Human Services, said although Brouder's retirement has been speculated, it is still bittersweet for the students to see him go.
"He always greets everybody when he walks by," Crites said. "He was very engaging with the students."