The IMSA Board of Trustees (BoT) is beginning the process of seeking the 4th president in the history of the Academy to replace President José M. Torres, who will be retiring at the end of the academic year.
The presidential transition is a strategic imperative to support and protect IMSA’s reputation, value proposition, and integrity. The BoT is committed to a transparent and inclusive selection process for IMSA’s next president and has created a Presidential Search Committee (PSC). The purpose of the PSC is to identify and nominate to the BoT, consistent with IMSA’s mission and the Board’s current strategic initiatives, one President candidate for the Board’s consideration.
The PSC will include representation from alumni, faculty, staff and Cabinet. The Board has appointed BoT Chairman Dr. Erin Roche (‘89) to lead the PSC, which also includes Trustees Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Kathleen Clarke (‘93), Dr. Steve Sims, Dr. Luis Núñez, Dr. Marsha Rosner, and four non-Trustees.
September 8, 2020
IMSA Board of Trustees Chair Announcement by Erin Roche ’89, Ed.D.
Dear IMSA Community,
I am writing to announce on behalf of the IMSA Board of Trustees that Dr. José M. Torres, President of Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
In December 2018, Dr. Torres initially notified the Board of his intent to retire. The Board worked hard to convince Dr. Torres to extend his target retirement date. We warmly welcomed his reconsideration to remain at IMSA longer because the Board wanted him to begin implementation of the Board’s Equity and Excellence Policy, the UN Sustainable Development goals with curriculum, and other goals. We fortunately have Dr. Torres, a veteran crisis leader, as IMSA’s president during the beginning, and we hope, the end of this pandemic.
Since arriving in 2014, Dr. Torres strengthened IMSA in spite of two major crises, facilitated the passage of significant state legislation to advance IMSA’s financial stability, and led major internal advancements toward IMSA’s mission to ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition. His leadership achievements include:
- Envisioning and enacting the Board-approved Equity and Excellence Policy.
- Increasing diversity in students and staff. Increasing the percent of low income students at IMSA from 11% to 17%.
- Creating and establishing the IMSA Operational Excellence Dashboard with ambitious targets and published results.
- Executing transformation of curriculum in concert with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Completing the renovation of two state-of-the-art science labs as well as the privately-financed auditorium and the Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation and Inquiry.
- Securing IMSA as the first host in the United States of the 14th AnnualInternational Student Science Fair.
- Stabilizing IMSA’s budget during a state level crisis with three years of no state-appropriated budget.
- Accelerating the use of educational technology to realize IMSA’s unique learning model during the current panemic.
When Dr. Torres first became President, he pledged to donate $50,000 of his own money to IMSA. I was struck by his devotion to IMSA, its community, and its mission. When he proposed 10X growth goals for his accountability dashboard to the Board (inspired by John Doerr’s OKR work), I was amazed by his audacity. Amazingly, he and his team went on to meet so many of these goals!
From 2014-2018, the statewide existential budget crisis seemed to threaten IMSA much like my second year as an IMSA student in 1987, when IMSA could have closed due to similar state fiscal challenges. During the more recent budget crisis, Dr. Torres’ strong relationship with the legislature and his budgetary acumen not only kept IMSA safe, but built the groundwork for long-term financial stability with the passage of the state law allowing tuition-paying non-Illinois students. He identified both the immediate and long-term revenue challenges and then worked with his team to elegantly address them.
Early during our current pandemic, Dr. Torres realized the utility of faculty and staff having four months to plan for online learning in advance of the beginning of the new academic year. In consultation with his team and the Board, he announced in May that IMSA would be fully online in the Fall. He put first the safety of students, faculty and staff, in addition to providing the faculty and staff months more to prepare for the current distance learning program. Dr. Torres has matched his personal pocketbook and his long-term vision with selfless dedication and ambition for IMSA.
Dr. Torres embodies IMSA’s values of innovation and inquiry, experimentation and data-driven strategy. My intention, with the full support of the Board, is to formally honor Dr. Torres with President Emeritus status following his retirement in the spring.
For some time, the Board has been organizing and preparing for a presidential search for Dr. Torres’ retirement at the end of this academic year.
We are well prepared to launch a national search for IMSA’s next president and are committed to a transparent and inclusive process, including the commencement of a Presidential Search Committee (PSC). The purpose of the PSC will be to identify and nominate to the IMSA Board of Trustees one president candidate for the Board’s decision. The PSC will consist of Trustees with representation from alumni, faculty, cabinet, and staff, in addition to engaging and communicating regularly with our community. We will be reaching out to these groups within the next day or so to invite their participation in the process.
Stay well and thank you for your contributions toward IMSA’s mission to ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.
Dr. Erin Roche ’89
Chair of the Board of Trustees