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Central Michigan University’s president George E. Ross will resign this year.

Ross made the announcement in a letter released Monday saying his last day would be July 31.

Ross said he did much “soul searching” before deciding the right time to step down.

“The decision came closer as I realized there is no perfect time for leadership change, because a vibrant, successful university always will be pursuing major initiatives,” Ross said in the letter. “And then, just before Christmas, my first grandchild was born. I suspect my mind was made up the moment he wrapped his tiny fingers around mine.”

Ross is CMU’s 14th president and served in the role for eight years.

He highlighted the university’s accomplishments under his leadership including increasing the number of students receiving financial support and launching the College of Medicine, which graduated its first class last May.

Ross also touted CMU’s premier corporate partnerships program with Ford Motor Co. and Quicken Loans.

“Together, we have tackled the tough work that many would have ignored,” Ross wrote. “It would have been easier to sit back and let others find solutions, but that is not who we are at CMU.”

In a statement, the university’s Board of Trustees said it plans to hire a “nationally recognized search firm” to find Ross’s successor and appoint an advisory committee including representatives of faculty, administrators, students and others.

“Please join me in thanking President and Mrs. (Elizabeth) Ross for their significant contributions to this great university, to its students, faculty, staff and alumni, and to the communities and businesses with which CMU partners,” board chair William Weideman said.

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