Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut announced Tuesday morning that he intends to resign, effective March 13 — the end of his “fourth full year” in the position. In his letter to Gov. John Kasich, he notes, “Higher education is in Ohio’s DNA.”

“[W]e have been in the business of higher education as long as we have been a state.” 

Fingerhut also said that he has worked to “focus our extraordinary higher education infrastructure on helping Ohioans meet the challenges and opportunities of today’s global, knowledge-based economy [and] we are making real, measurable progress … in graduating more students, keeping them in Ohio after graduation, and attracting talent to our state.”

Kasich released the following statement in response: 

“Chancellor Fingerhut has served Ohio with dedication and commitment and I applaud his work to improve our colleges and universities. I look forward to building upon the important reforms started under his leadership and wish him and his family well.”

Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, also released a statement thanking Fingerhut for his efforts and wishing him well.

“Eric Fingerhut’s tenure as Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents will be remembered for a number of achievements that serve well the interests of Ohio citizens and the state’s public colleges and universities.  

“Mostly notably, Chancellor Fingerhut is to be commended for bringing clarity to communications about the substantial return on investment in higher education, for developing a 10-year strategic plan that strengthened focus and accountability for the state’s system of public colleges and universities, and for leading Ohio’s transition to a performance-based funding mechanism for our institutions of higher learning,” Johnson said.

This opens the way for Kasich to install his own person in the chancellorship — something that was not a given since the position currently comes with a five-year term. Rumored to be at the top of Kasich’s list of possibilities is former Ohio auditor and attorney general Jim Petro.

Fingerhut was appointed the seventh chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents on March 14, 2007. A year later he delivered Ohio’s 10-yearStrategic Plan for Higher Education to the governor and Ohio General Assembly, with an overall goal to raise the educational attainment of the state of Ohio.

Since its release, he has worked closely with the administration, the Ohio General Assembly, businesses, colleges and universities, and other state agencies “implementing strategies to make higher education more efficient, while expanding low-cost pathways and educational opportunities to students and reframing the relationship between business and higher education” — all, he noted in the release, “to create jobs and build a globally competitive workforce to put Ohio on the path to economic prosperity.” 

As Fingerhut said in his letter, “Our challenge these past four years has not been to build new institutions, though we have built facilities and altered institutional mandates where needed. Rather, our challenge has been to focus our extraordinary higher education infrastructure on helping Ohioans meet the challenges and opportunities of today’s global, knowledge-based economy.”

He went on to reference his work with the Third Frontier program — a program which undoubtedly will be closely evaluated by Kasich’s new director of the Ohio Department of Development and JobsOhio czar, Mark Kvamme. 

Other efforts during his tenure have been around “centers of excellence” and expansion of shared services for the state’s higher education institutions.