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University of Louisville Provost to Step Down

University of Louisville Provost Shirley Willihnganz is stepping down after 13 years in the post.

Willihnganz made the announcement today in an e-mail to faculty and staff. Her resignation is effective June 30, according to a news release from the school.

She plans to return to teaching in 2016 following a sabbatical.

“It has been an honor to serve as provost, and I am proud of the tremendous growth we’ve seen during the past 13 years,” Willihnganz said in the released statement.

She began serving as acting provost in 2002 then received a permanent appointment in 2004.

Willihnganz is also the university’s executive vice-president.

Here's her e-mail to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be stepping down as provost at the end of this academic year.

Being part of the transformation of this university from a very good urban school to a nationally recognized metropolitan research university has been a joy and an honor. Watching how you have worked and dreamed and tirelessly pushed to make this happen has left me awed and humbled. Seeing Dr. Ramsey’s leadership shining, unbending, visionary and strong continues to be inspiring and I have learned so much from him. And working with our students has to be the most hopeful experience anyone could have. My senior staff and support staff are simply the best, and so much that is good is because of them. So many on our boards and in our community support this university, and much of what we as a university have become thrives from their attention and support.

So, I know there will be questions about why, and what and who next, but the simplest response is that after 13 years it’s time for me and for the university for change and just as each of us sits on the shoulders of those who have gone before, I know that this university is on such a trajectory that somebody great will want to be the next provost.

A heartfelt “thank you” to all of you. My plan is to finish out the academic year, take a year’s administrative leave and then figure out what next. I am lucky to have a tenured faculty position here and hope I have colleagues who will want me back. This is a wonderful university and I have loved it for the nearly 30 years that I’ve been here. I will continue to do that.



Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.