Shippensburg University President George F. “Jody” Harpster, Jr., Ph.D., announced today that he will retire effective January 20, 2017.

In a letter to the university community, Harpster said, “It is with a heavy heart that Leslie and I have made the difficult decision to announce my retirement effective January 20, 2017. Important family health matters have arisen that require our attention and so we must do what is best for both ourselves and the university.”

Harpster, who joined the university in 1995, has served as the university’s 16th president since January 2015. During his 21-year tenure at SU, he said he has seen the university evolve and adapt.

“For the past two decades, my wife, Leslie, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to share in that progress as part of the Ship family — serving in whatever capacity we could to help the university succeed. Through every challenge and every opportunity, Ship has emerged strong and united, and of that I am very proud.”

Some of the recent successes he highlighted included the addition of new programs in high-demand fields, including the first electrical engineering degree in the State System and the university’s first two doctoral programs; significant partnerships with the business community throughout the region; and national and international recognition of many academic departments and programs.

“While I will be sad to leave at this point in my tenure,” he said, “I will do so confident in the fact that the university will continue to thrive. So much has been accomplished already, and even greater successes are on the horizon.”

The decision to appoint an acting or interim president after Harpster’s departure in January rests with State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, who will make the determination after consulting with the chair of the university’s Council of Trustees and leadership of the Board of Governors. The board would appoint an interim president based on a recommendation by the chancellor, also in consultation with the council chair.

A search for a permanent president will begin as soon as is feasible.