Janet Dudley-Eshbach was appointed the eighth president of Salisbury University in 2000, the first woman to hold the office. During her tenure, she has provided transformational leadership, implementing a strategic vision that has resulted in the institution’s growth in size and reputation. She was the only university president honored this year by the Maryland Daily Record as one of the state’s “Most Admired CEOs.”
When Dudley-Eshbach arrived, SU had a student population of 6,400. Today, the student body is 8,600, a growth of 34 percent. Entering high school grade point averages are 3.7, a campus all-time high, and in the last five years, average SAT scores have increased some 50 points. Dudley-Eshbach has been successful in getting more equitable state funding for Salisbury University, one of the selective institutions in the University System of Maryland, and in attracting private support to foster dynamic changes, from new buildings to new degrees.
A Latin American literature and Spanish-language scholar who is fluent in Spanish, she was profoundly moved by study abroad experiences and exposure to different cultures and ethnicities. Under her leadership, the number of minority students has more than doubled, increasing 150 percent. She cut the ribbon on a Center for International Education and an English Language Institute. Today, SU’s campus attracts students from 69 countries. She has joined students on spring break service trips to areas such as Aguascalientes, Mexico. Her passion for international study and “Transformative Love of Hispanidad” have been showcased by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.
Strategic partnerships and town-gown relationships also have been part of Dudley-Eshbach’s vision. Her support of shared governance has garnered recognition from the University System of Maryland.
During her tenure, nearly a third of SU’s current majors and the campus’ first doctorate, in nursing practice, have been developed. The University skyline has been transformed by state-of-the art facilities including the Teacher Education and Technology Center, which received national recognition for its design; Perdue Hall, Richard A. Henson Medical Simulation Center and Sea Gull Square residence-retail complex. Planning is underway for a $115 million Academic Commons. Altogether the University has expanded with some $300 million in new facilities. A front-page Baltimore Sun feature highlighted SU’s growth in “size, reputation, ambition.” With some 1,700 employees, it has become one of the region’s largest employers with an economic impact of some $420 million annually.
Committed to sustainability, Dudley-Eshbach has fostered such campus initiatives as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of six new and renovated buildings.
She has been successful in nurturing private partnerships. The SU Foundation’s recent campaign raised nearly $40 million, some $15 million higher than its goal.
Every year during her tenure, SU has been one of The Princeton Review’s Best Colleges and among U.S. News & World Report’s Top Public Universities. For the last four years, the campus was also named a “Best Value” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Dudley-Eshbach three times has been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, and was inducted into The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence.
Her expertise and opinions have been featured in such national publications as Public Purpose, University Business and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She was elected to the board of directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, has served on the board of the American Council on Education, and is active in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
Prior to her arrival at SU, she served as president of Fairmont State University in West Virginia, and held faculty and administrative positions at three other private and public colleges and universities. A Phi Beta Kappa scholar, she earned her Ph.D. from El Colegio de Mexico.