Katie Davis and Valerie N. Donnalss

By Gus Bode

SIU-Edwardsville Chancellor David Werner shocked the University Wednesday when he announced his retirement at the conclusion of his annual State of the University address, leaving the 600 faculty, staff and students in attendance taken aback.

“I think the campus at large was surprised by the announcement,” said Keith Nichols, SIUE director of Public Affairs. “Did anyone walk into the address expecting him to retire? Probably not.

“Administratively, his vice chancellors had been informed, but beyond that, it was a surprise to everyone else.”


Werner, 61, is leaving after a prosperous six-year run as chancellor at the smaller SIU campus. Edwardsville has experienced a growth spurt in enrollment over the last few years, which sparked several building projects, most initiated by Werner himself. Werner first joined the University as a professor in 1968.

Nichols said Werner made a personal decision based on his right to retire after 35 years of service to the university. Werner has not yet made public his reasons for retirement, or whether or not he intends to remain active with the university.

“I’ve never worked with anyone that cared more or devoted more of themselves to the organization, and in this case, SIUE,” Nichols said.

Although Werner said he would finish the academic year, he has given no specific date for his retirement.

Scott Kaiser, executive assistant to the president for government relations, said President Walker will form a search advisory committee in the next several weeks to begin the process of searching for a new chancellor. He said the president would like to have a replacement by the time the chancellor leaves.

“President Walker said finding someone to replace David Warner with someone of equal passion for the institution will be difficult,” Kaiser said. “He said Chancellor Werner has provided excellent leadership for SIUE during his years as chancellor and his 35 years at the Edwardsville campus.”

Werner, who could not be reached for comment, said in a press release that he put aside plans to go to a “better place” when he first joined university staff in 1968 because of the faculty and staff’s common vision for the university and their determination to make that vision a reality.


“Then, at some point – I really don’t recall when – I realized that SIUE had become that better place,” Werner said. “I hope I played a role in making SIUE that better place.”

Werner was dean of the School of Business from 1975 to 1987 before serving a 10-year stint as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.