Furman University President Rod Smolla will step down on June 30 for personal reasons. Details are not being disclosed at this time.
The school’s board of trustees has elected Dr. Carl Kohrt, a graduate of the Furman Class of 1965, to serve as interim president.
The Southern Baptist-founded university in Greenville is consistently ranked as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.
“I have enjoyed my tenure at Furman, which is truly one of the gems in American higher education, and I am confident that the institution will continue to grow in influence and reputation,” Smolla said in a press release. “The decision to resign was reached only after long and thoughtful deliberation, and in the end I felt that the needs of my family must be first among my priorities.”
Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Cullen said in that same statement, “Furman has been catalyzed by his energy and commitment, and there is momentum going forward. We understand and empathize with his decision, and we are grateful for his dedicated service.”
Smolla was appointed Furman’s 11th president in July 2010. The school boasts that its enrollment of freshman minority students doubled under his watch and freshman international students grew from just 1 student to 29. The university’s capital campaign has recorded nearly $100 million in gifts and commitments since 2010 and now stands at $382 million toward its $400 million goal.
The announcement says Kohrt is an Illinois native who attended Furman on a football scholarship. He graduated magna cum laude in 1965 with a B.S. in Chemistry. He earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1971, and served as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Post-doctoral Fellow to the James Frank Institute that same year. He earned a Master of Science degree in Management Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991.
From 2001 to 2008, Dr. Kohrt served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit research and development corporation that works with the materials, energy, medical, and defense industries. He retired from Battelle in 2008 and currently serves as the lead director for Scotts MiracleGro Company. He is a member and former chair of the Furman Board of Trustees, and is a director of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.