Bainbridge Graduate Institute names new president

Some yearn for retirement, others can’t stop burning the midnight oil.

For Jon Strauss, it’s all about keeping an iron in both fires.

Strauss has come out of retirement to become the new president of Bainbridge Graduate Institute – the first graduate school in the country to offer an MBA in sustainable business and a pioneer of programs aimed at building financially successful, socially responsible and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs.

“I retired on Bainbridge in 2006 but found I wasn’t very good at retirement,” Strauss said. “I missed representing a worthy institution. I spent so many years as the personification of two very distinguished and important colleges, and when I wasn’t doing it there was a hole in my life.”

Strauss officially joined the institute on Wednesday. He has had a prolific career in education, serving as president emeritus at both Harvey Mudd College (1997-2006) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

Gifford Pinchot, former president and founder of BGI, will return to teaching at the institute. He will also focus his efforts on writing, experimenting with new models of sustainability and working on fund raising for BGI.

Strauss met Gifford after moving to Bainbridge, and soon became interested in the BGI mission.

He volunteered as a consultant over the summer and helped with financing the institute’s growing operations. Soon he was offered the position of president at BGI.

“As the chief executive officer I get to lead us into the future,” he said. “BGI is just coming out of its entrepreneurial beginnings and now it is calling for a steady-handed tiller. As I look back I guess you can say I specialized in institutional stability.”

Some other notable positions Strauss has held include vice president at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md., and senior vice president of administration at the University of Southern California. Apart from his substantial experience, Strauss holds a doctorate in systems and communication sciences from Carnegie Institute of Technology, a M.S. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B.S.E.E. from the University of Wisconsin.

One thing that Strauss is looking forward to in his first months at BGI is accreditation. BGI is awaiting word on its application from the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

“If we get accreditation that will be a big boost,” he said. “We’ve prepared our self study, we expect a visit in January and if everything goes well we could achieve accreditation in the spring.”

Despite the positive indicators of BGI’s future success, Strauss is looking forward to living and working on Bainbridge as he eases into his semi-retired life.

“I’m very enthused to be here – it is a marvelous organization,” he said. “BGI is such and important place with an important vision to have a positive impact on business in the world.”

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