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KENOSHA — Carthage College President Gregory Woodward announced on Tuesday he’ll be leaving at the end of the academic year to be president of the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

The Carthage Board of Trustees will begin to search for the next president soon. Woodward has been president of the college, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline on Highway 32, since 2012.

In a letter addressed to alumni, parents and friends on Carthage’s website, Woodward states, “this has been a very fast development, unfolding over just the past few weeks, and the decision to accept the offer has been very difficult.”

The letter also states that “this was not a planned move but rather the culmination of a series of small steps.”

Family reasons

“My primary motivation from the beginning was my growing sense that life is going by quickly, and that Penny (Woodward’s wife) and I are not able to spend it with our families, the people we are closest to,” Woodward wrote. “Our daughters and both of our extended families live throughout the east coast, and several family members are aging and in various stages of health.”

Woodward also noted his wife is battling breast cancer.

“This challenging personal health crisis has pressed in upon us with a kind of mortal intensity that we haven’t experienced quite this way before. We have decided that we want to be close enough to our families to be a regular part of their lives,” Woodward wrote.

During his time as president, Woodward led the college to develop internship-centered Carthage in Chicago program, which allows students to spend a semester in Chicago completing a big project. He helped establish the bachelor of science in nursing degree and a master of science in business design and innovation.

Woodward also oversaw the construction of the $43 million science center and helped secure a $15 million gift from Jan Tarble, of the family who founded Kenosha-based Snap-On tools, to fund a distinctive career and welcome center. The gift, the largest single gift in the college’s history, was announced last week.

Music background

Woodward was named the 22nd president of Carthage College on March 6, 2012, after an extensive national search to replace F. Gregory Campbell, who stepped down after 25 years as president. Woodward took office on Aug. 4, 2012.

A composer, musician, scholar and one-time NCAA Division I soccer player, Woodward came to Carthage College from Ithaca College in New York, where he served as dean of the School of Music, leading one of the premier undergraduate music conservatories in the country.

In an interview with The Journal Times in September 2012, Woodward said he and his wife were looking forward to attending Carthage football games that fall, not only as fans but as members of the pep band — Gregory on saxophone, Penny on the French horn.

According to the officials at Carthage, the college has had the highest retention and graduation rates in its history under Woodward. Currently there are 2,644 students attending, the highest enrollment in the college’s history.

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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