width=ALMA — Alma College President Jeff Abernathy has announced he will step down at the end of the 2024-25 academic year. After nearly 14 years in the role, he shared his plans with the Board of Trustees and the campus community.

“Serving as Alma’s president has been a great privilege. I’m so proud of this community and all we have accomplished together. Despite the challenges before all colleges today, our future is bright.

I have always intended to end my career as an English professor, and I look forward to returning to academic life,” added Abernathy, who shared in a campus town hall that he will return to the English faculty following a one-year sabbatical that will begin July 1, 2025.

Abernathy has provided a stable foundation of guidance at Alma through periods of unprecedented growth and tumult throughout the world. His legacy includes presiding over a successful “Our Time is Now” philanthropic campaign, which raised more than $125 million. It enabled Alma College to renovate key buildings during Abernathy’s tenure, including student housing facilities, the Hamilton Commons dining hall, the Hogan Center for athletics and the Greg Hatcher Learning Commons.

The Wright Leppien Opera House was also renovated in downtown Alma as a shared space for campus and community events, and student housing. The relationship between town and gown was further deepened with the founding of the Center for College and Community Engagement in 2021.

When Abernathy joined Alma College in 2010, the college had not launched a new major in 17 years. Since then, 27 new undergraduate programs and a new core curriculum have been launched. Alma College in 2021 launched the first graduate program in its history with the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree. Since then, its graduate degree offerings have expanded to include special education, communication, information technology and clinical mental health counseling.

Athletics now features nine new intercollegiate varsity teams — women’s and men’s wrestling, eSports, women’s and men’s lacrosse, women’s bowling, dance, Spirit Squad and competitive cheer have been added, bringing the number of sports teams at Alma to 30.

“The Board of Trustees deeply appreciates President Abernathy’s service to Alma College during his long tenure as its leader,” said Darryl G. Schimeck ’82, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “His vision for the college and unwavering dedication to the campus community have resulted in new academic and athletic programs, a record-breaking philanthropic campaign, and deepening connections with the local community. On behalf of the entire board, we wish him well as he transitions to a new phase of life focused on family and friendships.”

Schimeck said the board plans to begin a national search for the 14th president of the college in fall 2024 and will communicate plans for the search as they develop.