Gary A. Ransdell to become new president of Semester at Sea

FORT COLLINS — The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), parent organization to the Semester at Sea (SAS) program, today announced Dr. Gary A. Ransdell as president and CEO, succeeding retiring president and CEO Dr. Loren W. Crabtree effective Jan. 1, 2018.  Ransdell recently announced his retirement as president of Western Kentucky University (WKU) where he has served as president since Sept. 12, 1997.

"I am pleased and proud to become the next president of the Semester at Sea program.  Global learning has long been a passion of mine, and I cherish the opportunity to lead one of the world’s most important study abroad experiences,” said Ransdell. “I am fortunate to follow President Loren Crabtree and build on the major achievements of the last few years.  I look forward to joining my future colleagues on the SAS staff, and those who support Semester at Sea and Colorado State University.”

Semester at Sea moved its offices to the Fort Collins Colorado State University campus, where CSU and SAS officially began their partnership June 1, 2016. Under the agreement CSU provides academic, administrative, and student recruiting support for the shipboard program.  Semester at Sea has continued to thrive with the addition of a new headquarters building and with the most recent Spring 2017 voyage being fully enrolled.

“The SAS Board of Trustees conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive search for the new president and CEO.  With today’s announcement, we enable a smooth transition to a proven executive in Gary Ransdell.  Gary brings a history with Semester at Sea as a board member, an innovator and versatile leader,” said Dr. Kenn Gaither, Associate Dean/Professor, Elon University School of Communications and ISE Board member.

During his 20 years at WKU, Ransdell has led the university through an academic, physical and cultural transformation. Under his leadership, enrollment grew from 14,000 students to more than 20,000, the number of graduates produced each year has doubled to more than 4,000, and WKU added academic programs that are critical to the state and regional economy, including electrical, civil and mechanical engineering and doctorate programs in education, nursing, physical therapy and psychology.

Ransdell led the effort to create the Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU, which was named the nation’s top high school three times by Newsweek Magazine and The Daily Beast. He has been intentional in his efforts to internationalize the WKU experience through study abroad programs and by increasing the number of international students to the campus. And he has led WKU through two successful capital campaigns, which combined raised more than $300 million.

Crabtree’s affiliation with Semester at Sea began with his teaching on the S.S. Universe in fall 1980, and continued with three stints as Executive Dean. He served as Senior Fellow and Chief Executive for Global Education for SAS in 2008-2009, and interim president and CEO on two occasions.  He has served as the SAS president and CEO since June 2016.

“Loren’s dedication to internationalism is deeply held and is a core value that he has helped to instill both at Semester at Sea and at Colorado State University.  Our formal partnership is just starting out, but we have a great deal to build on.  Loren’s work has made that possible, and we are in his debt,” said Tony Frank, CSU president.

Crabtree is a specialist in 20th century Chinese history, with particular attention to Sino-American relations. He taught at Bethel College in Saint Paul Minnesota and spent 34 years at Colorado State University, serving as Professor of History, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. He retired from the University of Tennessee in 2008 as an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History and Chancellor.

“We want to thank Loren Crabtree for his leadership and focus on global education during his tenure at Semester at Sea. He has increased the credibility and visibility while guiding SAS to extraordinary growth and success,” Gaither.

About Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea (SAS) is a global study abroad program operated by the Institute for Shipboard Education, an educational nonprofit organization based in Fort Collins, Colorado. SAS takes a global comparative approach to study abroad using a ship as its traveling campus and offers a global learning experience that prepares students to function as citizens in a global economy, creating awareness through real-world opportunities and classroom learning.

The program itineraries are built around international challenges, trends, issues, and relevant academic themes. Since 1963, more than 60,000 students from 1,700 colleges and universities around the world have studied with Semester at Sea. Notable alumni and contributors include Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and many other world leaders and global thinkers.

About Colorado State University

Colorado State University, one of the nation’s top-performing public research institutes, was established in 1870 and remains inspired by its land-grant heritage and world-class faculty, staff and students. With annual research expenditures of more than $300 million, with more than 30,000 students built on multiple, consecutive years of record enrollment, including more Colorado high school graduates than any other university, and with outreach and engagement programs in every county in Colorado, we serve our state as we seek, together, to make a global difference.

In 2015 the Smithsonian Institution featured Fort Collins and CSU as a hub for energy innovation in an exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.