Suffolk University President David Sargent has retired.
His resignation was put in yesterday at a meeting of the university’s board of trustees.
After accepting it, the university announced it would be seeking a new president.
Board of Trustees Chairman Andrew Meyer praised Sargent. He called him an institution.
In fact, he has been at Suffolk since he graduated from law school in 1954.
Suffolk Provost Barry Brown has assumed Sargent’s duties on an interim basis.
Sargent’s retirement comes as no surprise to those who had insight into the jockeying going on for the top leadership post behind the scenes at Suffolk.
Sargent was said to be mortified by the public airing of the university’s business and that he did not want to be the cause of anything that damaged the university’s reputation.
In addition, at 79, even he agreed that his time had come.
Recent news stories indicated that University of Lowell President Martin Meehan was interested in gaining the presidency of Suffolk and handing off his own presidency to a state senator not seeking re-election.
That scenario now seems dead in the water with calls at the highest level of Suffolk’s leadership for an educator with a major curriculum vitae to lead Suffolk and to show an ability as well to raise money for the university.
Sargent’s demise, if in fact it can be called a demise after leading for 50 years the university and building it into a major Boston educational institution, was more about the changing times and his age than it was about anything else.
Largely credited with accelerating his departure however was the disatisfaction apparently expressed by trustees of the university about Sargent’s $1.5 million compensation package last year and about his extraordinary compensation package worth more than $2 million in 2006-2007.
Sargent’s departure finds the university at peace with Beacon Hill residents following the signing of a historic pact last year that caps the university’s population of students on the hill and outlines its future moves.
It is expected that none of the policies arrived at in the pact will change with a new president, although there is presently a move about to explore the possibility of moving off Beacon Hill Suffolk’s entire campus.
However, the talked about speculation about a move to Downtown Crossing is premature and most likely, impossible to accomplish.