One of the University of Utah's most distinguished alumnae plans to come home to Salt Lake City.
Ann Weaver Hart isn't a household name in her home city, but she is well-known in North Philadelphia, where she has led Temple University for the past five years. She stunned Pennsylvania's academic community last week with the announcement that she will resign at the end of the academic year to return to Salt Lake to look after her ailing mother.
Hart, 62, drew praise from officials at Temple, a 37,000-student public research university, where she oversaw a capital campaign that raised $380 million, led a major building campaign and saw admissions standards climb.
Her surprise resignation comes at the same time the University of Utah and Westminster College, the small private liberals-arts school two miles away from the state's flagship, are searching for new presidents. Hart announced her resignation on Sept. 9, a day after Westminster President Michael Bassis announced his retirement, and as the Utah State Board of Regents ramps up a year-long national search for former U. President Michael Young's successor.
Hart was not available for an interview but relayed a brief message through a university spokesman Thursday.
"I will return to Utah to be with my family and continue to be active in higher education, as I have been all of my professional life," she said. In a public statement issued last week, she said her decision was based on personal and professional reasons, but the emphasis was on her mother's health.
Coming at the pinnacle of her career, Hart's announcement surprised some in Utah's higher education community, such as Rich Kendell, the former commissioner of higher education. He said he didn't know if she was interested in working for a Utah school.
"She is a very accomplished person. I'm being purely speculative, but she would be a very good [presidential] candidate at either institution should she be inclined to apply. She was very well-liked here," said Kendell, who was Hart's professor in the 1980s when she was a graduate student. "She was an outstanding student. She has a scholarly disposition and could fit in with a faculty in a number of ways."
The U. named her a distinguished alumna in 2008 and she won the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award this year in recognition of her efforts to expand Temple's global ties, internationalize its campus and send students abroad.
Hart grew up in Salt Lake City and married her high-school sweetheart, Randy Hart, who became a lawyer, while they were still undergraduates at the U. She graduated magna cum laude in 1970 with a degree in history. She immediately embarked on a career in education, starting as a teacher at Cottonwood High School, and as a mother, giving birth to the first of four daughters. She returned to the U. for graduate school and earned her doctorate in educational administration in 1983. She remained as a professor, then served in administrative capacities as dean of the College of Education, then of the graduate school, before becoming a special assistant to the president. She left Utah in 1998 for a provost job at California's Claremont Graduate University, then moved to the University of New Hampshire as president. Temple hired her as its first female president in 2006.
Along the way she published more than 80 scholarly articles, demonstrating an interest in academic freedom and freedom of speech in higher education.
firstname.lastname@example.org Ann Weaver Hart
Hart, a Salt Lake City native and former University of Utah professor and administrator, announced her resignation last week as president of Temple University in Philadelphia. The 62-year-old scholar is returning to her hometown next year to look after her ailing mother. Hart earned all her degrees at the U. and taught at Salt Lake-area schools before embarking on an administrative career that has earned her a national reputation. Her move to Salt Lake City coincides with national searches for presidents at the U. and Westminster College.