Hahs Announces Retirement


Courtesy of NEIU

President Sharon Hahs officially retires Sept. 30 after nine years as NEIU president. She is the second woman president of NEIU.

Laura Rojas , Writer

NEIU President Sharon Hahs announced her retirement from her position set to go into effect Sept. 30 of this year.

Hahs has served as NEIU president for nine years. She said in a press release that she previously postponed her retirement due to the financial crisis NEIU encountered when a state budget was not declared for the last fiscal year.

When all was uncertain with NEIU’s ability to hold up under such circumstances Hahs said that what aided the university most was one key factor in past school initiatives.

“We worked collectively to follow the guidelines with regard to developing reserves,” Hahs said. “The planning paid off.”

This helped keep NEIU afloat. A stopgap budget was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on June 30 to help keep NEIU open.

NEIU received approximately $29 million in state funding and now that the university isn’t in as much jeopardy of clearing out its reserves as it had been last year, Hahs said she feels more comfortable stepping down.

Hahs said that first on her list post-retirement is simply waking up in the morning and enjoying a cup of coffee on her porch for as long as she pleases. Also on her list there is gardening―a new learning experience for her―as well as eclipse chasing with her husband; they have already seen 11.

Hahs said she will enjoy having more time for rest and relaxation. Although she will still be quite busy with her position as a board member for the accreditation council for pharmacy education as well as doing consulting work for higher education.

Hahs recalled her arrival and early moments at NEIU, particularly the dedication of the College of Business and Management and said, “I loved being here when we did it but I didn’t do any of the work that got us to that point, that was under the previous president.”

There were, however, several accomplishments of NEIU that Hahs has helped achieve. Examples include the construction of the new home for El Centro and The Nest, NEIU’s first ever student housing, are among her accomplishments.

“Now I am leaving some things for the future to finish,” Hahs said.

For now provost Richard Helldobler will serve as interim president until a new university president is elected by the board of trustees. He will serve until April 1, 2018.

Hahs said that the decision to make Helldobler the interim president upon her retirement was an easy one. She relayed her certainty that NEIU will be in good hands. She said that it took him only 15 minutes of being here to get him hooked and she feels he truly cares about the students and the university.

Since he is also her “second in command,” he is fully aware of NEIU’s budget constraints and struggles and has worked closely with her in keeping NEIU going through this crisis; she said she was confident he will do well.

The budget will be an ongoing problem that Helldobler will keep facing at least through the fall.

“Until the November election there will be no action in Illinois,” Hahs said. And though it may be hard, she said NEIU should certainly make it steadily through this year.

Hahs said that NEIU will be reaching its 150th anniversary and she feels that the university will survive yet another 150 years to come.

“I will always cherish the university,” said Hahs. She explained that she plans on visiting now and again to see how NEIU will be holding up and continuing to grow.

When prompted to choose what she thinks she will regret most about her leaving NEIU, Hahs said, “I will miss everything.”