PLYMOUTH — Lakeland University President Daniel Eck has given notice that he will resign in January, and former Lakeland President David Black will return to serve as interim president.
Board of Trustees Chairperson Barbara Gannon announced the news Monday.
Eck, a member of the Lakeland University community for nearly a decade and president for nearly three years, has accepted the role of deputy director of the Sarasota Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.
Gannon said the Board of Trustees has formed a transition team that will work with Eck and Black to develop a transition timeline. A search for a new president will be conducted in 2017, and details will be shared with the Lakeland community when they are finalized, Gannon said.
“Lakeland is well positioned to attract top-quality candidates to lead our institution,” Gannon said. “We have outstanding academic programs led by talented faculty, and, along with them, a dedicated staff that’s always willing to go the extra mile for our students. We are financially sound and we have a good strategic plan in place.”
Eck was named Lakeland’s 16th president in February of 2014 after serving 10 months as interim president. He came to Lakeland in February 2008 as a special assistant to then-Lakeland President Steve Gould, and he was named senior vice president in September of 2008.
For Eck, the move allows him to return to the museum industry. He previously served as associate general counsel at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, deputy director of administration at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan and director of development and external relations at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
“This decision is bittersweet,” Eck said. “I love Lakeland, our students, alumni, faculty and staff and the many people who support the great work we do here. Everyone associated with Lakeland is committed to the well-being and success of our students, and I am fortunate to be part of this family.
“Despite my positive experiences at Lakeland, my passion has always been in the museum field, and I am excited for this unique opportunity to return to that industry.”
Eck’s tenure as president saw significant positive changes. He led the transition from Lakeland College to Lakeland University, and played a central role in the development of the institution’s strategic plan. He stressed partnership and collaboration, and the university has formed and strengthened a number of key partnerships during his presidency.
He led the move to build a new outdoor athletic field planned for spring 2017, and managed completion of Lakeland’s main campus front entrance project. He also led the restructuring of several administrative departments which led to more efficient operations.
“We are grateful to Dan for his progressive leadership and for helping us move Lakeland forward during a challenging time in higher education,” Gannon said. “His vision and philosophy have Lakeland perfectly positioned for a strong future.”
Black served as Lakeland’s 13th president from 1989-1997. He left to become president of Eastern College in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He retired in 2013, and lives with his wife, Valerie, in Fort Myers, Florida. He was most recently at Lakeland in 2012 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
“I am very pleased to have been asked to return to this wonderful place,” Black said. “Valerie and I have missed it. We have wonderful memories of the work we did at Lakeland and the many great relationships we made. I have admired how Lakeland has grown, and I look forward to working with everyone to keep Lakeland moving forward.”
Black is a dynamic leader and his presidency saw some of the most significant growth in the institution’s history. Enrollment nearly doubled during his tenure, thanks in part to development of Lakeland’s first graduate programs (the Master of Education and Master of Business Administration) and the founding of Lakeland’s Tokyo, Japan, campus in 1991.
Other highlights of Black’s presidency include construction of Hill and Morland residence halls, permanent center locations in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Chippewa Falls and Neenah and major renovations of Old Main, W.A. Krueger Hall and Esch Library.
“We’re excited to welcome Dr. Black back to Lakeland to work with us,” Gannon said. “He was a driving force of Lakeland’s growth in the 1990s. We are thankful to him for this opportunity to once again have him lead this institution.”