Oglethorpe University President Lawrence M. Schall J.D., Ed.D. has announced that he will end his service, effective June 30, 2020. Schall has served as president of Oglethorpe University since 2005 and is currently the longest-serving sitting college or university president in Georgia.
His presidency has been distinguished by extraordinary financial improvement and stability, enrollment and campus growth, the creation of deeper connections between the university and Atlanta, and national leadership and advocacy on current social issues.
“Larry has had an incredible tenure at Oglethorpe over the past 14 years, ushering our institution into an era of unprecedented innovation and growth,” said alumnus Timothy P. Tassopoulos, chair of the Oglethorpe Board of Trustees and president & chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, Inc. “Under Larry’s leadership, Oglethorpe is stronger than ever—academically, philanthropically, and financially—positioning us to continue developing the next generation of global citizens and leaders for years to come.”
“I have been privileged to serve this university and have put my heart and soul into leading it to a strong, secure place,” said President Schall. “I could not be prouder of the thousands of graduates who have crossed Oglethorpe’s commencement stage since I arrived in 2005. As I consider how far we’ve come as an institution during that time, I am immensely optimistic about Oglethorpe and its future. I am grateful my path in life brought me to the extraordinary city of Atlanta and to Oglethorpe, a community that strives to ‘make a difference.’”
Under Schall’s leadership, Oglethorpe has increased net assets by 174%, while reducing total debt by 51%; increased annual revenues by 152%; increased the endowment by 157%; grown enrollment by 50.8%; established strategic entrepreneurial partnerships; and experienced a dramatic rise in philanthropic giving, with more than $130 million raised since Schall took office in 2005.
Oglethorpe completed the largest campaign in its history in 2015, raising $50.2 million and surpassing its goal two years ahead of schedule. That was followed soon after by a successfully completed $21.6 million campaign for the I.W. “Ike” Cousins Center for Science and Innovation, which opens in 2019.
One of Schall’s most significant achievements occurred in 2017, when Oglethorpe secured a $50 million gift commitment from alumnus Bill Hammack, retired CEO of CW Matthews, to establish the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business—the largest gift in Oglethorpe’s history and the largest to a liberal arts school to establish a school of business. The Hammack School opens in fall 2019.
Since 2005, Oglethorpe has invested millions into the restoration of its historic campus on Peachtree Road, and has seen: the addition of the award-winning Turner Lynch Campus Center, two residence halls, and a residential complex with 6,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms; the expansion of athletics and arts facilities, including a new scene shop; the launch of five global study abroad campuses in Barcelona, Cape Town, Greece, Paris and Rome; and, the founding of the Center for Civic Engagement, which evolved into the formation of the Atlanta Laboratory for Learning (A_LAB), an incubator for experiential learning. This growth was fueled by the successful execution of the university’s strategic plan, which concludes in 2020.
In keeping with the university’s entrepreneurial spirit, Oglethorpe last year launched Flagship 50, a groundbreaking merit tuition scholarship program that matches all 50 states’ flagship tuition for qualified students. Oglethorpe is the only college in the nation to offer this match.
Schall has written for The Huffington Post, as well as his personal blog, and has been featured in The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and on NPR, CNN, and Bloomberg News. He has received national attention for his leadership on issues affecting the lives of college students. In the summer of 2015, he worked as an Uber driver to experience first-hand the new ‘gig economy’ into which Oglethorpe students are entering.
Schall has also been a staunch advocate for DACA students or DREAMers. In 2019, Oglethorpe partnered with TheDream.US to offer scholarships to DREAMers, becoming the first partner institution in Georgia and the first in a “locked out” state, where DREAMers cannot get in-state tuition or state financial aid.
Perhaps most notably, he founded College Presidents for Gun Safety in 2012 following the Sandy Hook tragedy, generating support and coalescing more than 300 college and university presidents and education leaders around the need for gun safety.
Born in Manhattan, Schall grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. He graduated with honors from Swarthmore College in 1975 and went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Schall practiced law in Philadelphia as a trial attorney, specializing in civil rights litigation. In 1990, he returned to his alma mater, Swarthmore College, and served for 15 years, leaving as Vice President for Administration. While at Swarthmore, Schall was awarded a doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and served as Director of the Executive Doctorate Program in Higher Education as well as an adjunct faculty member of Penn’s Graduate School of Education.
Schall serves on the Board of the East Lake Foundation following six years as Chair, and on the executive committees of the Georgia Independent College Association (GICA), Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE), and Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). He also is currently working pro bono for the Georgia Justice Project. He previously served as Chair of the DeKalb Ethics Board, Board Chair of Project GRAD, and on the board of the Lovett School.
Schall was named to Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Influential Atlantans in 2017 and 2018.
The Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees will convene a presidential search committee comprised of trustees, faculty, staff and students, to identify a successor prior to President Schall’s departure. The committee will be led by alumni Cameron Bready ’94, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, and Tammy Pearson ’86, secretary of the Board of Trustees.