HU's Dowden to retire at end of academic year

G. Blair Dowden.
Photo provided.

After 22 years as president of Huntington University, Dr. G. Blair Dowden announced to the HU Board of Trustees on Friday, Oct. 19, that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the current academic year.

"President Dowden has been quietly considering retirement from Huntington University for some time. He has initiated this transition now in order to give the board plenty of notice, assure an effective transition of leadership and to maintain institutional momentum," said Kelly Savage, board of trustees chairman.

The firm Carter-Baldwin Executive Search has been retained by the board to begin a national search for Dowden's successor.

"Huntington University has experienced remarkable growth and success under President Dowden's leadership and we are very grateful for his 22 years at the helm," Savage said.

Dowden has served as the 12th president of Huntington University. Under his leadership, the Christian liberal-arts campus has doubled its enrollment, tripled its endowment and constructed or remodeled eight buildings. Huntington attracted a well-credentialed faculty and a more ethnically diverse student body, noted university officials. Academic programs were significantly expanded for undergraduate, adult and graduate students. Some of the university's largest and fastest-growing degree programs were launched during Dowden's presidency, including nursing and digital media arts. The institution transitioned from "college" to "university" in 2005.

"Huntington University has a very bright future," Dowden said. "The university has a compelling mission in Christ-centered higher education and a strategic vision for the future. Current initiatives - from the development of an occupational therapy doctoral program in Fort Wayne to the exploration of a branch campus in Arizona - demonstrate that Huntington University is nimble, entrepreneurial and poised for further growth."

Under Dowden's leadership, Huntington University achieved a reputation for academic excellence, moving from the second tier to the Top 15 among Midwestern baccalaureate colleges ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Huntington was recognized five times on the magazine's list of best values in the region. Huntington University has also earned recognition from The Princeton Review as a "Best Midwestern College." Forbes includes Huntington on its elite list of "America's Top Colleges."

In addition to his service at Huntington University, Dowden has been a regional and national leader in higher education. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Education. He also serves on the board of the National Association for Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU) and chairs its Student Aid Committee.

He is a past chair of the board of directors of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). He was the founding chair of the Council of Presidents for the Crossroad League (formerly the Mid-Central Conference) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and also served as chair of the NAIA Council of Presidents. Dowden is a board member and past vice chair of the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). He chaired the Indiana Council on Higher Education (ICHE). Dowden has also served as a consultant-evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. He is currently board chair of Lenawee Christian Ministries.

Dowden took over as HU president in 1991 after spending seven years as vice president for development at Houghton College, in Houghton, NY, and three years as special assistant to the president and assistant professor at Taylor University, in Upland.

Dowden graduated with honors from Wheaton College, in Wheaton, IL, in 1974 with a degree in political science. He received a Master of Arts from Ball State in 1978 in student personnel, administration in higher education, and received a Doctor of Education from Ball State in 1981 in the same major.