University of Montana President George Dennison announced today he'll be retiring effective Aug. 15, officially ending a 20-year stint in Main Hall. The announcement came during an afternoon address in the University Theatre regarding potential budget cuts at UM for the next fiscal year.
“I originally intended to announce this decision last September," Dennison said during the address, "but delayed it on request until after the successful conclusion of the search for a new president of Montana State University. I consider it a high honor and rare privilege to have served as president of a wonderful institution, made so by the people who constitute it."
UPDATE: Montana Commissioner for Higher Education Sheila Stearns told the Independent she had talked to Dennison about his retirement plans last summer, but had asked him to defer any announcement until early 2010 to give the state Board of Regents time to fill the position left vacant by former Montana State University President Geoffrey Gamble's retirement last year. She added that the regents will schedule a workshop in mid February to discuss the search process for Dennison's successor. Dennison said in his address that he will help in the process however he can, but prefers to "stay out of the way."
Dennison completed a Bachelor's degree in history at UM in 1962, and received his Master's degree from the university in 1963. Dennison said he plans to use his retirement to write a history of UM, an act he considers "a labor of love as well as hard work." He may consider teaching opportunities as well. Dennison received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.
As for the budget cuts, Dennison listed a number of potential options including implementing a four-day work week, leaving faculty and staff vacancies open, and reducing over-time and extra-compensation pay from the university's general fund when appropriate.