James Conwell photo

James Conwell

 Jim Conwell has resigned as the president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The institute this afternoon issued a news release saying the executive committee of the school's board has accepted his resignation effective Nov. 15.

The institute said "this was a mutual decision based on board concerns and President Conwell’s need to focus on a family health issue that is requiring more of his time and attention."

Earlier in the afternoon, faculty gathered at the the Mussallem Union for a short meeting, presumably to hear the news.

"Jim has moved this institution forward — we have a beautiful new student union, additional land on which to grow and a new academic building in the works,” board Chairman Niles Noblitt said in a news release. “We wish him well.”

The executive committee has appointed Senior Vice President Rob Coons to serve as acting president until the full board can meet later this month to discuss a transition plan.

“Rob has stepped into this leadership role in the past during times of sudden change,” Noblitt said. “He will provide continuity and direction."

Noblitt noted that all of the institute’s current initiatives, including the Mission Driven campaign, are moving ahead under Coons and Vice President Steve Brady’s leadership.

“The Mission Driven campaign started before Jim arrived at Rose-Hulman and is in very capable hands going forward.”

Conwell has been Rose-Hulman's president since May 2013.

Before becoming RHIT president, Conwell was vice president of Jacobs Engineering Group, a Fortune 500 company, which provided engineering and technical services to such industries as automotive, defense, mining, oil/gas, aerospace and pharmaceuticals.

His also taught undergraduate engineering at Vanderbilt University, Louisiana State University and Grove City College.

When his hiring was announced in March 2013, he described Rose-Hulman as a “diamond in higher education” and said he was “incredibly honored and excited” to have the opportunity to serve as the college’s next president.

He said he viewed his new role as an opportunity “to give back to higher education” and to help the next generation of engineers succeed. “I’d like to believe I have a fair amount of experience working in the global environment and hopefully we can prepare our students for the changes and challenges” that exist, he said at that time.

He said he thought Rose-Hulman, the No. 1-ranked undergraduate engineering college in the nation, was well suited to help address that problem and many others.

Sue Loughlin has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star for more than 30 years. She covers general news with a focus on education.