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Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, will retire in September 2022 after more than 16 years in the role.

McPherson said he’s leaving his post to spend more time with his family and to devote more time to projects and causes that are important to him. He plans to stay active in the higher education industry but isn’t sure exactly how he’ll continue his work.

“It has been an extraordinary honor to lead APLU for all these years and I am grateful for all of the experiences and accomplishments we’ve achieved together as a public university community,” McPherson said in a press release. “This is a bittersweet moment for me.”

During his tenure at APLU, McPherson grew the association from a well-respected trade organization to a strong advocate for public universities, said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education.

“Peter is a giant among leaders in higher education. He’s a hero in the work to ensure the success of public higher education in meeting the needs of all students and the needs of a vital democracy,” Mitchell said. “In the last 50 years, there’s really been no one to match Peter’s impact on public higher education.”

McPherson told Inside Higher Ed he is especially proud of APLU’s growing influence in Washington, D.C., and political advocacy for public higher education.

He has plenty to keep him busy until he steps down—APLU is working on a number of initiatives related to college access, student success and completion, agricultural innovation, and growing international student enrollment after the pandemic.

“As I said to my staff this morning, I’m going to work very hard till the day I retire,” McPherson said. “I’ve always had lots of ideas, and I’m sure I’ll add more.”