Suffolk University President David J. Sargent to Retire


David J. Sargent, who has led Suffolk University through a period of unparalleled academic growth and whose passion for the institution became his life’s work, announced his retirement as president today. At a special meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously conferred the status of president emeritus on him in recognition of his extraordinary years of service.

Under President Sargent’s leadership since 1989, Suffolk has grown to a major urban university serving a student population from across the country and the world.

“No university in this country could be prouder of a president than we are of David Sargent, who has done so much to serve the University and the wider community,” said Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., Esq., chairman of the Board of Trustees, and a former law student of President Sargent. “The contributions he has made as a leader and an architect for growth will serve as a model for future presidents of universities who attempt to achieve a similar level of excellence.”

“As a professor, Law School dean and president, David’s singular focus on growing and expanding Suffolk’s potential to serve students has made a huge difference in the lives of thousands who have walked through these doors,” Meyer continued. “He will forever leave his imprint on this institution, and I speak for the whole Board when I say how profoundly grateful we are for his many years of service.”

Meyer announced that the Board of Trustees will create a search committee to conduct a nationwide search for the purpose of identifying a successor. University Provost Barry Brown will assume responsibilities for the Office of the President, overseeing day-to-day operations while that process takes place. Brown has served Suffolk since 1976, as an esteemed law school professor and, more recently, as provost.

President Sargent, 79, is one of the nation’s longest serving college presidents, and his more than half a century of service to Suffolk University is nearly unparalleled in higher education. A 1954 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, he returned to the University in 1956 as a professor of law before becoming dean of the Law School in 1972 and assuming the presidency of the University in 1989.

“I feel privileged to have been at this University for such a long period of time,” President Sargent said. “It is a uniquely wonderful institution. Its students, faculty and staff have become my extended family. Suffolk today is a vibrant and thriving institution dedicated to academic excellence and social responsibility.”

As the University’s eighth leader, President Sargent has taken great pride in hewing closely to the University’s founding mission of providing access and opportunity for all deserving students.

President Sargent has strengthened and expanded the University’s academic programs, introducing Suffolk’s first doctoral degree programs as an extension of its wide array of graduate-level offerings. Internationally, Suffolk University now has campuses in Madrid, Spain, and Dakar, Senegal. In Boston, the New England School of Art & Design has come under Suffolk’s mantle during President Sargent’s tenure. And the University’s dedicated faculty remains committed to scholarship, teaching and learning. Today, 91 percent of Suffolk faculty members hold Ph.D. degrees and the undergraduate faculty to student ratio is 1-to-12.

President Sargent’s tenure saw the establishment of many important centers of research at the crossroads of public policy, law and business, including:
• The Center for Global Business Law and Ethics
• The Center for Innovation and Change Leadership
• The Juvenile Justice Center
• The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service
• The John Joseph Moakley Institute on Public Policy and Political Leadership
• The Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights
• The Barbara and Richard M. Rosenberg Institute for East Asian Studies
• The Suffolk University Political Research Center

The Sargent era of institutional growth has seen the addition of four residence halls, including the recently opened Modern Theatre residence hall, a new Law School, and an administrative building that houses the Mildred Sawyer Library, and the soon-to-open, magnificently restored Modern Theatre performance space.

President Sargent is a past recipient of the American Trial Lawyers Association Award for service to the Bar and to the public, a recipient of the John Joseph Moakley Public Service Award, and holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from Suffolk University.

Suffolk today, has a devoted alumni base that is more than 60,000 strong, and a student population of nearly 10,000. It remains committed to educating students to become lifelong learners, as well as professionals who lead and serve the communities in which they live and work.

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