Jim Doti, Ph.D., President of Chapman University

Jim Doti, Ph.D., President of Chapman University

James L. Doti, Ph.D., longtime president of Chapman University, today announced his intention to step down from the presidency and return to teaching on the Chapman economics faculty on August 31, 2016, at the close of his 25th year as leader of the University. Doti was selected as the University’s 12th president in 1991, after serving as a Chapman economics faculty member since 1974. His tenure at Chapman places him among the longest-serving university presidents in the U.S.

“While I still love my job, I think it’s time for a change,” Doti – who turned 69 on September 26 – wrote to the Chapman community in his announcement.

In an unusual move within higher education, a succession plan was adopted and announced last year by the University’s Board of Trustees and the Chapman faculty senate. The plan calls for the presidency to be conferred on Daniele Struppa, current chancellor of the University, who has been at Chapman since 2006 as its chief academic officer. Both the board and faculty senate have endorsed Struppa’s selection.

“I’m delighted that Daniele Struppa will become Chapman’s 13th president,” Doti said. “I have great confidence in his vision and leadership skills.”

The succession plan also involves identifying and appointing a new chief academic officer, and plans are underway to recruit that individual within the coming year.

During this final year of Doti’s tenure, the University anticipates the grand opening of the $78 million, 1,044-seat Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts, as well as groundbreaking for its $137 million Center for Science and Technology.

“It’s no secret that Jim Doti’s tenure at Chapman has been the most dynamic era in the 155-year history of the University,” said David Janes, chairman of the Chapman Board of Trustees. “Jim is a visionary who has the gift of making impossible-seeming ideas come true, and although it seems effortless, it takes planning and extraordinary people skills to make it all happen. It’s been a joy for me and everyone on the board to work with him and watch his transformational dreams take shape for the campus and our students.”

During the 25 years Doti led Chapman University, the school grew from a relatively small liberal arts college of 2,200 students to a medium-sized university of more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, now ranked by U.S. News & World Report as seventh among all master’s-level institutions in 15 western states.  In student selectivity, Chapman’s rank has risen from #92 in 1991 to a ranking that has varied slightly over the past decade from #3 to #1.

Among Doti’s most significant achievements are establishing the annual Chapman University Economic Forecast and its pioneering econometric prediction model (he and fellow Chapman economist Esmael Adibi, Ph.D., present the Forecast to audiences of more than 2,000 business people each year).  He also presided over the foundings of Chapman’s School of Law (now the Dale E. Fowler School of Law), Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, College of Performing Arts, Schmid College of Science and Technology, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, and the Chapman University School of Pharmacy, and brought the nation’s oldest graduate program (now a doctoral program) in physical therapy from Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to Chapman.

Doti also oversaw the openings of Beckman Hall (home of the Argyros School), Kennedy Hall (home of Fowler School of Law), Marion Knott Studios (home of Dodge College), Leatherby Libraries, the Merle and Marjorie Fish Interfaith Center and Wallace All Faiths Chapel, and the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine (home to the School of Pharmacy, Crean College and the physical therapy program).  He also oversaw the founding of Brandman University (an independently accredited wholly owned subsidiary of  Chapman), a non-profit institution for adult learners with 30 campuses on the West Coast, including a headquarters campus in Irvine. He has written extensively on higher education issues in professional journals, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Among the top gifts made to Chapman during Doti’s tenure are a $55 million gift from Dale and Ann Fowler to name the Fowler School of Law (the second-largest gift to a law school in U.S. history), a $38 million gift from an anonymous donor for the Musco Center for the Arts, a $26 million gift from an anonymous donor toward the building of Beckman Hall, a $20 million gift from Lawrence and Kristina Dodge to name Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, and a $15 million gift from Harry and Diane Rinker to name the Rinker Health Science Campus.

In the meantime, the indefatigable Doti mesmerized the Chapman community with his adventure hobbies, which have included qualifying for and completing the Boston Marathon nine times and climbing many of the highest mountains in the world, including Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Elbrus, Vinson, Rainier, Whitney – and, earlier this month, the Carstensz Pyramid on the island of New Guinea and Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia.

“It hardly seems possible that almost 25 years have passed since the Board of Trustees invited me to serve as Chapman’s president,” Doti said. “Much has been accomplished over the years, but I am confident the University’s intellectual environment will become ever more vibrant, exciting and respected in the years to come.”


Doti will not retire from Chapman; he plans to return to teaching on the Chapman economics faculty and to expand his research on the economics of higher education, and will serve in a friend-raising or fund-raising position to be announced. “It is exciting and fulfilling for me to continue to work together with what I believe is the greatest team in higher education, serving the university that I cherish,” he said.



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