By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief and Jake Shindel, Senior Editor
Towson University President Kim Schatzel will leave her position in February to become the 19th president of the University of Louisville, the University System of Maryland announced Wednesday.
The University of Louisville board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Schatzel, 66, during a meeting Wednesday.
In a message to the Towson campus, Schatzel, who took over the presidency in 2016, thanked the community for its support during her tenure.
“I want to thank our incredible TU students. You all continue to do amazing things each and every day,” Schatzel said. “Through your energy, curiosity, drive, compassion for each other and passion to make the world a better place — you have inspired me each and every day.”
What’s next for TU?
Former Towson theater professor and dean Maravene Loeschke led Towson before Schatzel’s arrival. When Loeschke stepped down in 2014 due to health reasons, then-provost Timothy J. L. Chandler took over the presidency on an interim basis until 2016.
Loeschke died in 2015.
Perman said the University System of Maryland will launch a nationwide search for Schatzel’s successor. A Towson spokesperson deferred to the system on the process for picking Towson’s next interim president.
In a joint statement, Heather Sorensen and Desirée Rowe, chairs of TU Staff Senate and Academic Senate said Schatzel was leaving a legacy of growth in her departure.
“On behalf of TU Staff and Academic senates and the over 3,000 faculty and staff we represent, we congratulate Dr. Schatzel on her appointment as the next president of University of Louisville,” Sorensen and Rowe said late Wednesday.
The Student Government Association did not provide comment by publication Wednesday.
Schatzel’s tenure at TU
Before coming to Towson, Schatzel was provost of Eastern Michigan University and dean of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Business.
As Towson’s 14th president, Schatzel oversaw several large construction projects, including the renovated University Union and Science Complex. The state invested $1 billion for capital projects over the course of Schatzel’s tenure.
University System Chancellor Jay Perman, chancellor of the Maryland system, in a letter called Schatzel’s departure a loss for Towson.
“The fact that Dr. Schatzel was tapped to head a university as nationally prominent as UofL, as highly regarded, speaks to her enormous talent and drive, which we’ve seen up close since she was named TU’s leader nearly seven years ago,” Perman said in the email.
In a September interview, Schatzel listed moving Towson toward an R2 Carnegie Classification of high research as a top priority for her. This classification would mean Towson graduated 20 doctoral students and spends at least $5 million on research annually.
Perman also cited the diversity of Towson’s student body campus as a success for Schatzel. Towson is expected to become a minority-majority campus after several years of nearly half of its incoming classes identifying as a racial or ethnic minority.
“Of course, diversity alone isn’t a sufficient indicator of progress, nor is it how President Schatzel measures success, Perman said. “TU has closed the achievement gap between Black and Latinx students and their white classmates, one of only a handful of U.S. colleges that can make that claim.”
He said Black students have graduated at a higher rate than other races at Towson for the last eight years.
While Perman and both universities touted Schatzel successes, she remains a controversial figure for many Towson students.
Additionally, many students feel Schatzel is disconnected from the student body.
In November 2016, she came under fire for not attending a walkout held on campus in opposition to the election of former President Donald Trump.
More recently, in October, several students said they were upset that Schatzel had not publicly denounced members of Towson’s the embattled chapter of Turning Point USA after leaked GroupMe messages showed members using racist, homophobic and ableist comments.
Junior Bodior Elliott said that the next president should “definitely try to connect with the students more.”
“She felt super distant to be quite honest,” Elliott said. “Like I know she’s the president of the university or whatever but she seemed super disconnected from the wants of the regular student. Most of us make fun of the fact that she gets paid so much bc like it seems outrageous.”
Elliot said that they felt she was overpaid.
Alternatively, Student Scott Bernota said he was sad to see Schatzel leave as he respects her.
“I haven’t had any problems with her, ”Bernota said. “So it might be little, you know, kind of sad to see her go because I came in as a freshman and she was the President and had no problems with her. I know some people are excited to see her leave, but you know, no really opinion on it.”
Wednesday’s announcement saw several comments on social media celebrating Schatzel’s departure. Several YikYak posts discussed the departure.
“Kim leaving announcement on Spotify wrapped day it’s a Christmas miracle,” a user on YikYak wrote after Wednesday’s announcement.
“Bye Kimothy,” another post on the platform reads.
The University of Louisville
Schatzel’s appointment ends the University of Louisville’s nearly yearlong search to replace Neeli Bendapudi, who left in December 2021 to become the next president of Pennsylvania State University.
“My husband Trevor and I are thrilled to be joining the UofL community and look forward to embracing the university community, the City of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky as our new home,” Schatzel said in a statement posted by the University of Louisville.
Schatzel will earn $925,000 a year at Louisville plus $200,000 annually for her retirement, according to the Courier-Journal, which obtained a draft of her new contract.
This is a $394,550 increase from her current salary of $530,450.
Located in Kentucky, the University of Louisville was home to 23,194 students and 7,016 faculty in Fall 2021, university data shows. The school is home to 12 colleges and had a $1.2 billion budget in the fiscal year 2020-21.
After the departure of Bendapudi, Executive Vice President and Provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez served as interim president. The university said she will return to that role upon Schatzel’s arrival.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly said the University of Louisville had a $1.2 million budget in the fiscal year 2020-21. The Towerlight regrets this error.