By Sophie Hills

Marshall Ingwerson, chief executive of Principia, will be leaving the role when his contract expires on June 30. The decision was announced this morning in an email from the board of trustees to faculty, staff, and college students and in a later email to the broader Principia community.

Outgoing trustee Dennis Marunde will serve as interim chief executive, beginning June 1. Ingwerson and Marunde will share the responsibilities of the job from May 4 to June 30 to provide a transition for Marunde and to allow Ingwerson to conclude projects he was working on before the pandemic and to finish the academic year.

Ingwerson will continue as chief executive for the month of May, he said, during which he’ll confer with Marunde daily to bring him into the loop on major initiatives and decisions underway. When Marunde officially steps in, Ingwerson will play a consulting role and possibly help bring one or two specific projects to the finish line.

While there is a structure in place to find a permanent replacement, there are no immediate plans to form a search committee. In light of the uncertainty concerning the fall semester, in addition to the presidential search, Marunde will serve as interim “as long as the board chooses,” he said. “We’re hoping not to have to put the community through multiple leadership changes…back-to-back.”

“I don’t see it as a permanent position. The community deserves an opportunity to decide who’s the permanent [replacement],” he said.

The trustees expressed their gratitude to Ingwerson for his “dedication and careful analysis of Principia’s needs and how to address them” and credited him with being instrumental in introducing a number of changes. 

“[Ingwerson] early articulated the principle of “Love first”— that love should characterize everything about Principia,” read the announcement. “He then modeled that expectation by unfailingly conducting himself in a gentle, humble, inclusive, loving way. He has set a high standard for all to emulate.”

During his tenure, Ingwerson initiated the Principia-wide research of the Student Experience of Christian Science, shepherded the 2019 treatment choice policy, implemented the pilot admissions program, oversaw five-year strategic planning, supported reaffirmation of accreditation at the college and the school, installed a chief financial officer, and led Principia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the announcement.

Ingwerson sees the pilot program as his most valuable contribution to Principia. “However [the pilot program] ultimately is implemented, I think it was…the most significant stir of thought for especially the college, but I think the college and the school.”

People still aren’t settled about it, said Ingwerson, but it’s designed to be “sort of a learning and growing program.” 

“For Principia it’s pretty historic.”

A final candidate in Principia’s last search for a chief executive, Marunde led his family’s business for 30 years, acted as a financial and management consultant for small and mid-sized businesses around the country, and served on many for-profit and nonprofit boards.

Marunde’s “strong metaphysical practice and love for students have been evident in his record-breaking service as a resident counselor or related role on 13 Principia study abroads,” the announcement read.

“This is a wonderful institution,” said Marunde. “I graduated from here, I loved it from day one, and I’m really excited and delighted to hopefully have an opportunity to give back in a small way.”

The role of chief executive is important to the college to help the transition “to the permanent president, and the transition through the crisis of the pandemic,” said John Williams, Interim President.

Principia includes the school campus and the college campus. The president of the college and the head of the school both report to the chief executive, who then reports to the board of trustees, Marunde explained.

Put simply, the chief executive is “the go-between between the two campus heads and the board.”

“I look at the chief executive’s position as being the position that ensures that the mission of the school and the vision of the campus heads all come together and operate to the benefit of everyone who’s involved with Principia,” said Marunde.

Ingwerson came to Principia in spring of 2017 after serving as editor of The Christian Science Monitor since 2014. At the time, he noted that “Principia has made incredible progress in recent years in becoming a world-class academic institution, and I see a determination to keep building on that progress.” Three years later, he still sees that.

“I think Principia continues to provide some really transformative experiences for many students. I think it gives great personal attention,” said Ingwerson. Principia, as an institution, cares in a “whole person sort of way about the students, and engages with students in a way that’s unusual.”

As enrollment in four-year institutions drops across the country, and the pandemic threatens the economy, Principia is at a critical juncture. What Principia needs most, said Ingwerson, is to “take further steps to really clearly establish and articulate its future direction.”

“How does Principia want to grow? Principia can grow. I think Principia should grow. Principia needs to really define how it wants to grow, and…it’s a community that has a lot of different views about that. But it really needs to work through those and achieve clarity so everybody can understand it.”

Ingwerson and Marunde expressed the same hope that the many views in the Principia community be brought together to form one clear direction.

“I look forward to devoting as much time as I possibly can to getting to know as many different individuals, as many different interests,” said Marunde. “I tend to be pretty much a people person, and that’s going to be probably the most enjoyable part of the job, is getting out and listening.”