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Hundreds turn out to wish JU President Romesburg well at farewell reception

By Phillip Milano 

Hundreds of well-wishers streamed in and out of a packed Howard building lobby Thursday afternoon, Jan. 31, at a campus send-off reception for outgoing JU President Kerry Romesburg, offering him their best, smiling over fond memories and at times getting choked up right along with him as they looked back on his nine-year-tenure. 

JU President Kerry Romesburg at his farewell reception Jan. 31 with students and staff of the University's TRiO Support Services, including Juwan Watson, TRiO Academic Retention Coordinator, second from right.

As a JU string quartet played and guests munched on refreshments, Romesburg hugged and shook hands with faculty, staff, grounds personnel, alumni, friends, family, students and even student parents in from out of town. 

“It’s so gratifying to see this,” Romesburg said, his eyes welling up. “To know people feel as strongly about JU and the students, staff, faculty, coaches and everyone here means so much. I care so much about them and JU, and our common mission, which I’m almost evangelical about: to help the students fulfill their dreams. And all of us have worked together to help make that possible.” 

Romesburg, who leaves office Friday, Feb. 1, after more than 40 years in higher education, will stay on as a consultant to new JU President Tim Cost until May commencement, after which he and his wife, Judy, plan to head off exploring the country in their RV. 

Here are thoughts from some of those at the reception: 

“I’m very happy for him. As his kid, I’ve wondered how he’d react. He has so loved this job in particular, which is a testament to JU. At first I think he felt he might go crazy in retirement, but now he’s embracing it.”

Rod Romesburg

Kerry’s son 

“He’s a bit nostalgic as he leaves but is proud of what he’s done for JU and is leaving on a high note. I’m a professor, and I know that the relationship between the administration and faculty can be complicated. Being here today, I’m proud of him as a dad, and also as a leader, because of how he was able to cooperate and engage with everyone.”

Don Romesburg

Kerry’s son 


“I’m so happy his sons are here to see him getting all this praise. He’s ready, and has eased into the realization he’s leaving, but it’s hard. I think he would want people to remember always that he was student-centered. And that by always keeping everything above-board, he earned people’s trust. At his first faculty meeting, they wanted to know if they could trust him, and he told them they would find out that they could. And at his last meeting with them, they gave him a standing ovation, which was a wonderful show of support.”

Judy Romesburg

Kerry’s wife 

“I heard the stories about how things were at JU nine years ago, and I know how he’s turned it around. We’ve got the riverfront, the MSRI, and so much more. It’s been a transformation. I see him as a calculated person, meaning he listens and lets other people do their jobs, but when it comes down to it, he makes good decisions when it’s needed. The next president just needs to keep the momentum going.”

Brandon Krouppa

President, Jacksonville University Student Alliance

“I’m going to miss him, not only as a boss but personally. I learned a lot about how to work with people from him. He’s the most even-tempered person I’ve ever worked for. He taught me that there are those times you have to just swallow your ego and do what is best for everyone involved.”

Terry Whittum

JU Vice President of Enrollment Management




“He literally brought us back from the brink. He saved us. He opened up the riverfront and beautified this campus. He’s left a great legacy and will be severely missed. But yet, I’m excited about what’s coming down the pike, so it’s all very bittersweet to see him leaving.”

Shirin Brenick

JU Director of Alumni Relations 




“I’m OK about retiring now, but there was some trepidation for a while, since for 40 years all I’ve done is work in higher education every day. But working with Tim (Cost) and knowing the next president so well has made it much easier. I’ll stay on to help out for a bit, but as for retirement? I’m ready.”

Kerry Romesburg

JU President, 2004-2013






One comment

  1. Best of luck to great leader!

    Ray Clines
    Professor of English