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Semester at Sea Announces New President and CEO

Gary RansdellThe Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), parent organization to the Semester at Sea (SAS) program, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Gary A. Ransdell as president and CEO, succeeding retiring president and CEO Dr. Loren W. Crabtree effective January 1, 2018. Dr. Ransdell recently announced his retirement as president of Western Kentucky University (WKU) where he has served as president since September 12, 1997.

“I am pleased and proud to become the next president of the Semester at Sea program.¬† Global learning has long been a passion of mine, and I cherish the opportunity to lead one of the world’s most important study abroad experiences,‚Äù said Dr. Ransdell.¬†‚ÄúI am fortunate to follow President Loren Crabtree and build on the major achievements of the last few years.¬† I look forward to joining my future colleagues on the SAS staff, and those who support Semester at Sea and Colorado State University.‚Äù

“The SAS Board of Trustees conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive search for the new president and CEO. With today’s announcement, we enable a smooth transition to a proven executive in Gary Ransdell. Gary brings a history with Semester at Sea as a board member, an innovator and versatile leader,” said Dr. Kenn Gaither Associate Dean/Professor, Elon University School of Communications and ISE Board member.

During his 20 years at WKU, Dr. Ransdell has led the university through an academic, physical and cultural transformation. Under his leadership, enrollment grew from 14,000 students to more than 20,000, the number of graduates produced each year has doubled to more than 4,000, and WKU added academic programs that are critical to the state and regional economy, including electrical, civil and mechanical engineering and doctorate programs in education, nursing, physical therapy and psychology.

Dr. Ransdell led the effort to create the Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU, which was named the nation’s top high school three times by Newsweek Magazine and The Daily Beast. He has been intentional in his efforts to internationalize the WKU experience through study abroad programs and by increasing the number of international students to the campus. And he has led WKU through two successful capital campaigns, which combined raised more than $300 million.

Semester at Sea moved its offices to the Fort Collins Colorado State University campus, where CSU and SAS officially began their partnership June 1, 2016. Under the agreement CSU provides academic, administrative, and student recruiting support for the shipboard program. Semester at Sea has continued to thrive with the addition of a new headquarters building and with the most recent Spring 2017 voyage being fully enrolled.

Dr. Crabtree’s affiliation with Semester at Sea began with his teaching on the S.S. Universe in fall 1980, and continued with three stints as Executive Dean. He served as Senior Fellow and Chief Executive for Global Education for SAS in 2008-2009, and interim president and CEO on two occasions. Most recently he currently serves as the SAS president and CEO since June 2015.

“Loren’s dedication to internationalism is deeply held and is a core value that he has helped to instill both at Semester at Sea and at Colorado State University. Our formal partnership is just starting out, but we have a great deal to build on. Loren’s work has made that possible, and we are in his debt,” said Dr. Tony Frank, President Colorado State University.

Loren Crabtree is a specialist in 20th century Chinese history, with particular attention to Sino-American relations. He taught at Bethel College in Saint Paul Minnesota and spent 34 years at Colorado State University, serving as Professor of History, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. He retired in 2008 as an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History and Chancellor from the University of Tennessee.

“We want to thank Loren Crabtree for his leadership and focus on global education during his tenure at Semester at Sea. He has increased the credibility and visibility while guiding SAS to extraordinary growth and success,” continued Gaither.


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