Sep 8, 2010 3:14 PM
Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr. is stepping down as president of the University of Kentucky when his contract expires June 30.
Todd announced his departure at a news conference Wednesday afternoon on the campus in Lexington.
"It is just the right time," Todd said.
The Kentucky native was a former UK electrical engineering professor who went on to start two technology-based companies. He will have completed ten years as president when he leaves.
Todd, who taught at UK for nine years before leaving to run his companies, succeeded former UK President Charles T. Wethington. Todd was charged with leading the university toward a goal of becoming a Top 20 public research institution by 2020, a goal set by the Kentucky General Assembly.
Born in Earlington in Hopkins County, Todd graduated from UK with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1968 and received his master's and doctorate in the same discipline from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 and 1973 respectively.
After securing several research patents at MIT, Todd returned to UK in 1974 to teach electrical engineering and stayed for nine years.
In 1981, Todd founded Projectron Inc. to manufacture projection cathode ray tubes for the flight simulator industry. He sold that company to Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1990, persuading Hughes to move some of its operation to Kentucky.
In 1983, Todd left the university and founded DataBeam, a software development company that was bought by IBM's Lotus division in 1998. He stayed on to run the company and was promoted to senior vice president.
Todd said being chosen to lead his alma mater was the pinnacle of his career.
Among his achievements at UK, Todd launched a business plan aimed at reaching Top 20 status as a public research university, borrowing a strategy long used in the corporate world but never before applied to a university.
Under his leadership, enrollment at UK has increased by 13 percent - from 23,852 students in 2000 to 26,913 students in fall 2008. The university's budget doubled under his leadership, from $1.2 billion to $2.4 billion.
Comments from various coaches and officials concerning Todd's retirement announcement:
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart
“I’m extremely happy for Lee and Patsy, who have given their heart and soul to the University of Kentucky and the state of Kentucky for the last 10 years. It’s always great when a person gets to enjoy looking back and seeing all the accomplishments that they have created, and he has certainly done that for the university,
“From an athletics perspective, he has been a great friend and a great proponent of raising the bar of athletics at the University of Kentucky. We’re thankful that we could have been a part of that and we’re hopeful that we added to the accomplishments that Lee and Patsy will greatly look back upon. We wish them all the best in their retirement. We know that he will continue to make a long-lasting contribution to every facet of life in the state of Kentucky.”
UK Football Coach Joker Phillips
“The University is losing a great ambassador. Dr. Todd is a tremendous advocate of our University and our state. I’m both happy and sad – happy for him to be able to retire and also sad for our University to see him leave.”
UK Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari
“Dr. Todd called me this morning and left a message on my phone and when I listened to it, it made me sick to my stomach because of my confidence in him as a leader. He’s maybe my best recruiter. Every player that comes on this campus has a chance to meet our president, who went to school here and taught here. On the other side, I’m happy for him and his wife. But it’s a big loss. This is not like, ‘Let’s just get another guy’. This is a big loss.”
UK Women’s Basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell
“Dr. Todd was an extraordinary leader for this university. The example he set with his leadership was an inspiration to me personally and to all the people in leadership roles at UK. He is a man of great integrity and it is clear to me that his passion for UK is extremely sincere. It’s an honor to work under him and I will forever be grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to work at this great institution. He will be greatly missed. I know his legacy will be admired for a long time and he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest presidents in UK history.”
UK Women’s Soccer Coach Jon Lipsitz
“Dr. Todd has worked incredibly hard to create the profile of this university and has been tremendously successful in the push to create both academic and athletic excellence. If he feels it’s his time for a rest, he’s certainly earned it. We greatly appreciate everything he has done academically and athletically for this university. I couldn’t imagine working for somebody that’s both a greater president or a greater human being than President Todd.
“On a personal level, it’s been wonderful to meet him and his wife Patsy. As a newcomer to this state and this university to see their passion for the Commonwealth, the university and UK athletics is very infectious. Getting to meet them has certainly had a great effect on my family in our short time here.”
Some of Dr. Todd's accomplisments:
Associated Press Wire Services Contributed To This Report