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Changing Leadership for ISE and Semester at Sea

The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), nonprofit parent organization of world-renowned study abroad program Semester at Sea (SAS) announced today that President and CEO T. Kenn Gaither will not renew his contract to spend time with his growing family.

Gaither, the fourth president in the program’s 51-year history, successfully helped ISE secure a new vessel, the World Odyssey in May, and new academic partner, Colorado State University, this month. In the past year, ISE has also eliminated $80 million in debt and created a strong balance sheet. This April, his wife gave birth to twin girls, joining two-year old Ellie at home.

“My growing family and need for presence at home must be balanced with this exciting time in the Institute’s history,” Gaither said. “As ISE is poised for a bright future, the need for a leader who is fully committed is paramount. It is with a heavy heart I step away from one dream job to another – that of a more present father to my beautiful young girls.”

ISE and Gaither entered into a one-year agreement last Aug. 1, and Gaither’s decision not to renew was not unexpected considering the program’s transitional phase to a new home and academic partner. He will serve out the remainder of his term until July 31. The ISE Board has begun a national search for the next president and CEO. The search committee is chaired by Dr. Gary Ransdell, Board Member and President of Western Kentucky University. The Institute aims to appoint its next president before Gaither’s departure to allow a seamless transition in leadership.

“In the past year, I have seen the global comparative education mission of Semester at Sea continue to blossom through thousands of passionate alumni, a dedicated staff, and hundreds of friends of the program, from alumni leadership groups to volunteers to our remarkable Board of Trustees,” Gaither said. “With a new ship and a world-class academic partner, the horizon for ISE could not be brighter.”

ISE intends to announce its new president prior to July 15.

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