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Message from President Foster on his retirement

After 17 years as President of Colorado Mesa University, I will be retiring from CMU at the end of this semester/fiscal year or to be more specific June 30, 2021 to spend more time with my family and to open a new chapter in my life.

To some that phrase is cliché, but I am reminded of the verse from Ecclesiastes — that the Byrds turned into a popular song — “To everything there is a season.” We all give a lot to our jobs and I certainly have invested so much in CMU, I wanted to share my thought process with you.

Lisa and I have been “empty nesters” for a couple of years, which has been a pretty big change. In fall 2019, I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with Lisa and our family in Scotland. We had a blast exploring Edinburgh, the countryside and even a short stop in London where we took in a Premier League soccer match. Like all trips it flew by and I found myself back on campus winding up the semester and getting ready for the new year. My mind was filled with preparing for the upcoming legislative session, budgets and new ideas. I also had a lingering question in my head: “how long is too long for a president to serve, have new ideas and be sharp enough to really add value to the university?”

And personally, I wondered how long would I be healthy enough to truly enjoy life, to go see our boys and their families, and be able to do all sorts of fun things I still want to do with the love of my life, Lisa.

To add to my thought process was the reality that for 17 years I have worked literally non-stop. Always on — even when I was not supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with the territory, and I love my job, the people I work with, my friends, our students, the opportunity to help people pursue a college education and change their lives.

This time last year I was prepared to draft this very letter, but we had a hotel to get opened and then the pandemic struck. I knew that leaving in the midst of that chaos was simply not appropriate. Which brings us to now. As we emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, it seems the time is right for me to find the next challenge and for the University to have the next great leader. Above all, this is a case for invigoration. CMU is brimming with young energy and abundant talent.

Working at CMU is a privilege, and the response of our campus community to the pandemic is a testament to how amazing the people here truly are. I have been lucky to work with the best of the best — from our Board of Trustees, to our faculty and staff — there are really none better. The world of higher education, like every other market sector, requires us to be nimble, agile and creative. All characteristics that are embedded in CMU’s DNA and embraced by all of us. Because of that common culture, Colorado Mesa University is ready for the challenges ahead and to thrive not just survive.

I am not gone yet, I have committed to staying through the end of June 2021. My passion and work ethic will not wane and I promise to be as bothersome as ever. Yes, that means you will still see those pesky 3:00 A.M. e mails and text messages.

At the end of the day, life is a series of tradeoffs and I assure you I am not going home to watch the grass grow. After a sabbatical, including traveling in the United States and overseas, I will be mulling what comes next. Perhaps I will hang out my shingle and see who wants to engage an older attorney with some gas left in the tank. In any event, I am clear that Lisa is not ready for me to tell her, “Honey I am home…for good!”