Muhlenberg College President Randy Helm Will Retire in June 2015
Muhlenberg College President Peyton R. (Randy) Helm has announced his decision to retire June 30, 2015. The announcement came at the end of the College’s Board of Trustees board meeting this weekend.
Commenting on the announcement, Muhlenberg College’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Richard C. Crist Jr. '77 stated that "Randy Helm has provided outstanding leadership to Muhlenberg for more than a decade. The College has a strong foundation and tremendous momentum thanks to his efforts. The opportunity to build on the success of the past 10 years should be very attractive to an excellent pool of accomplished leaders." A national search for a successor will begin this spring.
Helm took office July 1, 2003. With the exception of DeSales University President the Reverend Bernard O'Connor, he is the longest serving president in the Lehigh Valley.
Under Helm's leadership, the College’s endowment grew from $70 million to $200 million. He also led to completion a $110 million Capital Campaign, The Talents Entrusted to Our Care.
During Helm's tenure, the College developed two Strategic Plans, completed a new life sports center and new science building, expanded and renovated Seegers Union, built new residence halls, expanded its Hillel House, and retrofitted existing buildings as new facilities for the performing arts, multicultural life, global education, and social sciences. A renovation and addition to 110-year old historic East Hall will be completed next summer. In addition, the College has greatly reduced energy consumption, increased recycling, and strengthened sustainability programs.
Over the past decade, the College has continued to set records for admissions applications while raising the academic profile of the student body. The College has made great strides in diversity over the past decade. For four straight years, the incoming freshman class has included more than 10 percent students of color, including 15 percent this past year.
On the academic front, the College began implementing a new curriculum in 2013. Muhlenberg added 10 new faculty positions over the last decade. It also launched majors in film studies and Jewish studies, and minors in Africana studies and public health, and greatly expanded study abroad opportunities, internships and student research opportunities.
Student Life has also flourished. After a task force developed clearer standards for Greek organizations early in Helm’s administration, the College’s fraternities and sororities strengthened their academic performance and public service achievements. For seven consecutive semesters, Greek students have had a higher average GPA than independents at College.
One of Helm’s earliest initiatives focused on developing a partnership with the 19th Street area merchants. These early efforts evolved into the West End Theatre District organization that has improved the streetscape and made other improvements. The College partnered with the Civic Theatre last year to introduce digital projection and other improvements, while encouraging more campus programming at the theatre and in the neighborhood.
A particular focus of Helm’s effort has been strengthening shared governance at Muhlenberg, ensuring that faculty, staff, and students work collegially with the Board of Trustees on institutional planning and policy development. At the beginning of his tenure, he worked with faculty and trustees to create the College’s Board of Observers – an elected group of distinguished alumni and others who provide ongoing assessment of the College’s academic and administrative programs.
In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Helm served as a professor of history and taught courses in Homeric Epic and Greek history. In the December, the College published a collection of his speeches and essays: Launched on the Wine Dark Sea: A Decade of Advice to Undergraduates and Reflections on the Liberal Arts.
“This has been a deeply satisfying and joyous period of my life,” said Helm. “The last decade has been a wonderful time to be at Muhlenberg College. Pat and I have made many wonderful friendships which we will continue to treasure. I am extremely proud of our senior management team, the faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees. I am grateful for the privilege of having served such a dynamic institution. There is still much to accomplish over the next 17 months, and I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and trustees to make the most of this time. I also want to do everything in my power to assist with a smooth and celebratory transition.”
Prior to Muhlenberg, Helm served as vice president for college relations and professor of classical studies at Colby College. He is a graduate of Yale University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Helm’s wife, Patricia Burton Helm, is a member of the music faculty at the College.
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg College is a highly selective liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Presidents of Muhlenberg College 1848-2015
College Achievements, 2003-2014