Trinity College President James Jones, criticized for demanding that fraternities go co-ed, will step down in June 2014, a year earlier than originally planned.
Jones announced his expedited resignation in an e-mail today to the Hartford, Connecticut-based college community, hours before a scheduled meeting called to oppose the co-ed plan.
Students and some alumni plan to gather this evening as part of a challenge to a college decree that its Greek houses admit members of the opposite gender starting in September. Each of Trinity’s 10 fraternities and sororities will be required to have 45 percent of their members from the opposite sex by 2016. Jones didn’t refer to tonight’s meeting or other concerns raised by students and alumni in his e-mail.
“I have every confidence that this is the optimal moment for me to move aside,” Jones said in the e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.
Some alumni who belong to fraternities have formed a group that has threatened to challenge the initiative in court and said they will withhold donations to the college. Students opposed to the plan are scheduled to hear a presentation tonight from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based free-speech group.
Jones had previously wanted to resign in 2014, before agreeing to extend his term to 2015, The college said in a statement today. Jones, who became president in 2004, oversaw the largest capital campaign in the college’s history, started the renovation of its buildings and grounds and expanded the school’s study-abroad programs, Trinity said.
“We now feel that his wish to shorten that extended tenure by one year is in the best interest of the College,” Trinity Board Chairman Paul Raether said in the statement. “President Jones has always placed Trinity first.”
The school will begin a search for Jones’s successor, according to the statement. The college today also said that Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, a member of the class of 1980, was designated as chair-elect of the board of trustees.