Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

An expression of gratitude and optimism

Representatives of the University of Redlands Board of Trustees—Chair Leland C. Launer Jr., Past Chair Carole Beswick, and Chair Emeritus Richard N. Fisher—share their thoughts with the University community following the recent announcement of Ralph and Nancy Kuncl’s plans to retire from their roles in the University presidency.

By now you have seen President Ralph Kuncl’s announcement of yesterday, regarding his and Nancy’s upcoming planned retirement from the 11th presidency of the University, effective with the end of the current academic year.  As current and former Chairpersons of the University’s Board of Trustees whose successive terms of Chair service have overlapped with Ralph’s presidency, we are joining in this letter to express personally, and on behalf of the Board of Trustees, our gratitude for Ralph’s nine years of exemplary, visionary, and energetic service as President of the University.  We wish that we could have stretched Ralph’s presidential term of service, but we fully understand Ralph and Nancy’s decision at this stage in their lives.  We are very appreciative that their early notice of their plans will give the University time to plan and execute a smooth transition of presidential leadership.

With their announced transition, we cannot help but reflect upon the beginning of Ralph and Nancy’s recruitment to become Bulldogs for Life, back in 2011-12.  In that presidential search, we were blessed with hundreds of applications from highly qualified candidates, including several sitting presidents of other colleges.  However, Ralph’s resume and finalist interview essentially sealed that process in his favor, as his outstanding history as an internationally prominent medical scholar and successful university provost – coupled with his listening and communication skills and obvious high intelligence and sound judgment – created immediate unanimity among the search committee and the Board of Trustees that he simply had to be our choice.  We are now hopeful and trusting that the improvements to which Ralph has contributed and implemented will make our University even more attractive to prospective successors.

Over the years since that auspicious beginning, Ralph has demonstrated creative and visionary leadership that has made his presidential term truly exceptional.  It will now be up to all of us to continue his visions for the South Campus-University Village rail project and related residential/commercial development; for the San Francisco Theological Seminary and the opportunities it has opened in the Bay Area; for the focus upon international students and general student interest in international studies; and for the numerous other key initiatives that promise to serve and enhance the educational experience provided by this University.

We are also grateful for Ralph’s leadership in initiatives and achievements that will sustain the University for decades to come:  doubling the size of the University’s endowment; the launch and near-completion of the largest comprehensive campaign in the University’s history, followed in tandem by the ongoing Bulldog Athletics Campaign; his financial and planning skills and foresight with liquidity funding, cash management, and accumulation of reserves that greatly cushioned the need for additional measures affecting employees as we weather the financial impacts of the Covid epidemic; Ralph’s medical expertise as we navigate toward gradually reopening the Redlands campus in the wake of the epidemic, while extending in our graduate and professional schools the successful remote and online learning innovations of recent months; and his student-focused leadership in increasing student financial aid resources, along with the personal mentoring he has provided to students to enhance their learning experience and future opportunities.

Ralph has recruited and mentored an outstanding administrative team of Cabinet members to lead the University’s key functions, and over the years has increased the diversity of that leadership group. This has led to an increased inclusive capacity to serve the University’s growing complement of minority and first-generation students.  And, as if that were not enough, he has during his presidency completed 13 peer-reviewed publications within his medical specialties, while also generously giving his time to confer with students, employees, trustees, and others undergoing serious personal or family medical challenges. 

We have also been so very well served by Nancy’s active engagement, not only as the welcoming leader, gracious hostess, and steward of the Miraflores president’s house, but also with her positive and encouraging volunteer relations with the various key constituencies of the University, including the Board of Trustees.  We appreciate her successful partnering with Ralph in fundraising, and carrying out her own independent key fundraising efforts on behalf of the University.

As we now move forward, the Board of Trustees will soon be forming a Presidential Search Committee to assist and advise the Board in the national recruitment and selection of the 12th President of the University.  In that initiative, the goal will be to identify and recruit the right outstanding individual to continue the high standards of performance and transformative impact of the presidency of Ralph Kuncl.

We are looking forward to continued successful leadership by Ralph for the balance of this school year, and, along with Ralph, we look to the future of the University of Redlands with great optimism.

Learn more about the University of Redlands.