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Claremont McKenna College president to retire in 2013

May 15, 2012 |  6:02 pm

Pamela B. Gann, who has been president of Claremont McKenna College since 1999, announced Tuesday that she will step down from that post in about a year.

Gann, who is 63, has led the school to major successes in fundraising and faculty expansion. But she also faced controversy in recent months as a result of disclosures that an admissions official at the prestigious liberal arts school had hyped the SAT scores and other data of incoming freshmen for years.

Gann’s retirement was under discussion about a year ago and was not hastened by the scandal, according to campus spokesman Max Benavidez. Gann, who declined a request for an interview, said in a campus letter that her timing was in part connected to the expected conclusion of a multi-year fundraising campaign, which has garnered $525 million toward a $600-million goal by next summer.

“Leadership changes are healthy for all organizations, and they provide an opportunity for the community to come together to reflect seriously and intelligently upon its future. The leadership change will also come at a time when the college is well positioned to attract an exceptional new president," Gann said in a letter to the campus.

Before coming to Claremont McKenna, Gann was the law school dean at Duke University, and she will become a legal studies professor at Claremont McKenna after leaving the presidency.

In April, the 1,320-student college released an investigative report by the O'Melveny & Myers law firm that found that the campus’ former vice president for admission and financial aid, Richard Vos, acted alone in exaggerating aggregate freshmen SAT scores and other statistics. Vos reportedly said he had acted in reaction to pressure he felt from Gann for a more selective student body. The probe found that Gann had not done anything improper.

The exaggerations turned out to be so small that the college did not lose its ranking as the nation’s ninth best liberal arts college in U.S. News & World Report’s listings.

--Larry Gordon