Pharr, who has led the university since 2017, announced her retirement plans during an all-campus informational session Wednesday.
Pharr will retire at the end of her five-year contract, on June 30, 2022. Mount Mary said it hopes to have her successor in place by that time.
“I am choosing to retire so I can be closer to family,” Pharr said. “This is not a decision that I take lightly because of my deep love for Mount Mary and how much I have enjoyed serving as president.”
During Pharr’s tenure, Mount Mary has established and grown several programs, including its Compass Year first-year program for undecided students. The university also launched this year its four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program after the construction of a $2.5 million Health Sciences Center.
Mount Mary this fall is also preparing to open Trinity Woods, a new intergenerational housing community that it developed in partnership with the School Sisters of Notre Dame and Milwaukee Catholic Home. Pharr led efforts to raise $2 million for the $45 million project.
“Over the past four years, we have instituted a multitude of new programs and initiatives, which led to a record number of new students for fall 2021,” Pharr said. “As we continue our work in the coming year and as Trinity Woods opens, I am confident that I will leave Mount Mary in an excellent position with a bright future.”
Mount Mary has also moved up more than 20 spots to 51st on U.S. News and World Report’s best regional universities within the past five years and was recently recognized for having the greatest economic and ethnic diversity in the Midwest. In 2020, it became a Hispanic Serving Institution, one of two in the state.
This summer, the university established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and named its first vice president for DEI.
“Mount Mary educates committed change-makers and barrier-breakers, and Dr. Pharr has truly been a champion of change and growth,” trustee chair Stephanie Russell said. “Mount Mary’s strategic plan, strong internal leadership and capable faculty and staff will continue to move Mount Mary purposefully and confidently into the future.”