American University president to step down after six years

American University President Sylvia Burwell is stepping down from her role after six years. 

The announcement came via an Instagram post from the university’s main account August 8.  In the video, President Burwell cited family as a driving factor behind her resignation. 

"When my service as president finishes next summer, our daughter, Helene, will be nearly 17, and our son, Matthew, will be almost 15," President Burwell said in the video. "Before they go to college themselves, and we become empty-nesters, [my husband] and I would like to spend some time living a different lifestyle," said Burwell in the video. 

Burwell’s resignation will take effect at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 academic school year. She is set to join the university’s Sine Institute of Policy and Politics as a distinguished lecturer once she steps down. 

During Burwell’s time as president, American University became the first university to achieve carbon neutrality,  the Sine Institute for Policy and Politics was established and the university’s endowment grew by over 60%. 

The news of Burwell’s resignation comes just weeks after the university announced a $30 million budget shortfall for the upcoming academic year. 

"I just don’t think she was handling her duties as president," American University rising sophomore Richard Young Jr. said. "I feel like she had no choice but to step down because of the poor financial decisions she and the people in her cabinet made."

Burwell’s farewell video made no mention of a potential replacement. However, an email sent to the American University community by the board of trustees announced the formation of a presidential search committee and partnership with Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search and leadership advisory firm, to find the university’s next president. The committee will be chaired by class of 1981 Kogod School of Business alumni Marc Duber.