Article Comment 

MUW president Limbert says she's retiring


Dr. Claudia Limbert meets with The Dispatch’s editorial board in 2008. Limbert announced her retirement today as MUW’s 13th president.

Dr. Claudia Limbert meets with The Dispatch’s editorial board in 2008. Limbert announced her retirement today as MUW’s 13th president. Photo by: File Photo


The following related files and links are available.


Link Link: Text of Limbert's speech announcing her retirement

Dispatch Staff Report


The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.


Mississippi University for Women President Dr. Claudia Limbert announced her retirement today, months before the state College Board is expected to consider her proposal to change the name of the nation''s first state-supported college for women.  


"I think you all know that the highest professional honor in my life has been the privilege of serving as president of MUW," Limbert said this morning at a press conference on campus at Cochran Hall. "The faculty and staff with whom I have worked at MUW and the students whom I have come to know have enhanced and enriched my life beyond words." 


Limbert''s retirement will go into effect when her contract ends, June 30, 2010. 


The announcement marks the end of a long feud between the embattled president and the school''s former Alumnae Association, which supported the school for more than a century. 


Limbert cut ties with the MUW Alumnae Association in 2007, forming a new group of former students. 


The new MUW Alumni Association officially carries the university''s name. The old Alumnae Association changed its name to Mississippi''s First Alumnae Association, after losing a Supreme Court battle. The state''s high court decided Limbert had the right to disaffiliate with the group. 


Limbert, whose appointment by the state Institutions of Higher Learning as 13th president of MUW began July 1, 2002, said retirement was a family decision. She wanted to make the announcement early so the IHL "would have ample time and opportunity to plan for the transition to a new president." 


Limbert offered thanks to the College Board and IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds, as well as the city of Columbus, Lowndes County and the Golden Triangle and MUW students, also saying working at MUW has been a "real pleasure." 


"During my two terms here, we have had some wonderful times and some not-so-wonderful times," Limbert said. "We have always celebrated the wonderful and we have always plowed right on through the not-so-wonderful." 


Originally from Missouri, Limbert holds a bachelor''s degree in English, history and education from Bethel College in Kansas and a master''s degree in creative writing and a doctorate in English literature, both from Boston University. 


Limbert began her career as an English and women''s studies professor at Pennsylvania State University, Shenango, where she also served as an administrative fellow and director of academic affairs at Penn State, DuBois. She also served as campus executive officer from 1998 until being appointed president of Mississippi University for Women. 


After a months-long process involving surveys and meetings with professional agencies, alumnae, students and Columbus residents, Limbert in August announced Reneau University as the school''s choice for a new name. 


MUW officials said they did not know when the IHL board would take up the name change, but it was not on the agenda for the board''s meeting at Alcorn State University in Lorman on Wednesday and Thursday.  


If approved by the College Board, the state Legislature also would have to sign off on the name change. Reneau University would be the fourth name for the historic university. 


The name honors Sallie Reneau, an early pioneer of Mississippi higher education for women, whose efforts led to the founding of the university. 


MUW was founded as the Industrial Institute and College in 1884. In 1920, II&C became Mississippi State College for Women. And in 1974, MUW adopted its current name. 


The school has admitted men since 1982.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment alley36 commented at 10/12/2009 11:29:00 AM:

It's amazing. Dr. Limbert created all this chaos and is not going to see it through? While it's hardly surprising, seeing as she seems to be a 'closer' I would suppose she has done what she came here to do. If she does go to another school I hope they realize that she is there to cause enough chaos to eventually close the school down.


Article Comment HK commented at 10/12/2009 11:43:00 AM:

Yes--she came here--started chaos at the school and now she is leaving. I guess she accomplished what she set out to do... ashame that the W will have to suffer--yes I said the W--it will always be the W..


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/12/2009 11:45:00 AM:

Farewell, Dr. Limbert. Not everyone thinks you're a problem and I'm sorry you had to go through so much. You're a stronger person than I am - I would've quit long ago. It shows your strength and your committment and I wish you the best of luck.


Article Comment Leeroy Jenkins commented at 10/12/2009 12:01:00 PM:

Just as I thought. She came in, pushed a name change and now that it looks like it will happen, she is going to quit. All she wants is her name associated with the name change.

Good riddance to you and your Flo-Bee haircut


Article Comment mac commented at 10/12/2009 12:02:00 PM:

I wonder if their are greater implications to the resignation/retirement than a change in MUW administration?


Article Comment mac commented at 10/12/2009 12:02:00 PM:

I wonder if their are greater implications to the resignation/retirement than a change in MUW administration?


Article Comment mac commented at 10/12/2009 12:15:00 PM:

I wonder if their are greater implications to the resignation/retirement than a change in MUW administration?


Article Comment WGrad80 commented at 10/12/2009 12:19:00 PM:

I am not sorry in the least to hear this news. The last 7 years have been one destructive decision after another at her hands. Limbert will be remembered as the W President who eliminated athletics and a host of critical student programs, shuttered the Dem School. devalued traditions and history, and unjustly booted out a beloved Alumni Director. Her legacy will include being in cahoots with some of the most unseemly characters in higher education, alienating thousands of the school's strongest supporters by disaffiliating the historic Alumnae Association and continually failing to understand the value and unique mission of an institution focused on women's education.


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/12/2009 1:32:00 PM:

How would ANY president have been able to justify keeping the athletic program alive when the program was bleeding the university dry? Think of the money used for scholarships and equipment - and then think of the near-empty gym during volleyball and basketball games.

The Dem School - no longer being utilized by the W's education department so it was not a true "demonstration" school. The Columbus Municipal School District opted to stop paying the partial costs. What would have been the rationale for keeping it open?

Unjustly booting an employee? Please. Get your facts straight.


Article Comment HK commented at 10/12/2009 1:32:00 PM:

I am with "J"--good riddens "Mz." Lambert! She only wanted to change things about the W--that made it the W..


Article Comment unbeleivable commented at 10/12/2009 1:35:00 PM:

Great! Now MUW and Mississippi can save some money!! Get her out and get our name back!


Article Comment A Thrilled Alum commented at 10/12/2009 2:28:00 PM:



Article Comment WGirl commented at 10/12/2009 2:56:00 PM:

WGrad80 - just because you say it time and time again (broken record, anyone?) doesn't make it true.
All you other Limbert haters: who are you going to pick on now? You poor, pitiful people...


Article Comment Melody commented at 10/12/2009 3:52:00 PM:

Good for us! Now , let's get a male to replace her. It's no longer the W so why not get a good black man to replace her. Another 1st, right?


Article Comment J commented at 10/12/2009 4:05:00 PM:

The W would be wise to follow in MS State's footsteps and choose a qualified alum as their next president. It needs to be someone who knows,understands and cares what the school is about. They will need to be a person who can bring everyone together for the sake of the school. It doesn't matter what they look like, they just have to be able to get the job done in order to return the school to its former glory.


Article Comment HRW commented at 10/12/2009 4:13:00 PM:

As an graduate of the "W", I have kept quiet and have given Dr. Limbert the benefit of the doubt.
I have always felt that the college board gave her way too much "rope". She has made decisions that should not have been made by one person. She had nothing to lose and now she is leaving to let someone else clean up the mess. A school with this much history should not have a name change. The only times the name was changed in the past was when it became a college and again when it became a University. The name MUW should remain. I am glad to see her leave and just trust that the next President will take the job to better the University and not to better themselves. A Great University, delivering a Great education... we need a great President.


Article Comment Puzzled commented at 10/12/2009 5:33:00 PM:

I don't understand why she is such an advocate of the name changed if she doesn't even plan on staying at the W for the change. Sounds like a pot stirrer to me.


Article Comment w grad 93 commented at 10/12/2009 6:11:00 PM:

She came, she destroyed and she's leaving a mess behind without a care! I hope someone with heart and an actual personality will come to the "W" and bring the spirit and pride back to the alumni and the community!


Article Comment MSCW grad commented at 10/12/2009 6:39:00 PM:

I hope they hire a man this time. Women don't seem to be supportive of women. They ran off Dr. Rent and now Dr. Limbert. To all of you disgruntled careful what you ask for, you might get it. Why would any qualified person want this job and the abuse that goes with it?


Article Comment disconcerted alum commented at 10/12/2009 7:37:00 PM:

MSCW grad, you may have a point. Being an MSCW grad myself, I have come to the conclusion that women expect more of other women, because they are aware that more is expected of themselves because they ARE women! Rightly or wrongly that has become our modus operandi. As for running off Dr. Rent, I think you will find that it was the Faculty/Staff who gave Dr. Rent a vote of no confidence ..... not the alumni. I think you will also find that presidents of all universities have to deal with the same problems Dr. Limbert has dealt with; the difference being they actually have dealt with the problems and Limbert has not.


Article Comment MUW grad "86 commented at 10/12/2009 9:49:00 PM:

I have no first hand knowledge of the alum issues and squabbles; eventually that will be of no consequence. The priority now is to grow our school while maintaining excellence. An important key to growth is the name change. For men, the MUW name is too risky as significant careers develop. It is amazing to me that many alums can't see the future for the past. Let's toss our differences and put first things first. A new president must be a person of vision and courage.How about Allegra Brigham? She is a realist, visonary, and knows how to get things done.


Article Comment Greg B commented at 10/13/2009 4:27:00 AM:

I have to say as I grad myself it will not hurt to see her go, she has caused many problems for the school and community. The "W" will always be the "W". the name change will not affect how many males come to the school, that's ridiculous. When you tell someone that you graduated from MUW, male or not, they recognize the quality education you recieved. Being a male student and alumni myself, I came to the "W" because of the excellence in the nursing program and have to say I was well-educated here. The "W" better continue to improve and diversify the programs offered or we may see the end of our beloved college in the near future.


Article Comment PicaU commented at 10/13/2009 7:19:00 AM:

I am a graduate of the W, and was no fan of Limbert...albeit I made my decision from afar by reading news accounts online. However, please get some of the facts straight. WGrad80, the decision to eliminate athletics was made long before Limbert ever arrived. That was a Clyda decision. And if memory serves, the biggest reason for the Dem School being shuttered was a lack of state funding.

The school is in a downward spiral and has been for many years. I agree that perhaps male leadership is needed for a change (and before you alums start, that's not a female bashing comment). Maybe the best thing is for the school to raise tuition and become a private university.


Article Comment Wsupporter commented at 10/13/2009 7:30:00 AM:

Dr. Limbert has worked so hard to make life better for faculty, students and staff at MUW. Though many will never give credit where credit is due, her contributions will certainly move the university forward in a multitude of ways.

I am proud to say that she was a part of our family... and I am sad to see her go.

Thank you, Dr. Limbert, for all that you have done over the past seven years! We will miss you dearly after spring semester! Please know that you are always welcome back in our great state... We are a better university and a better state because you came here.


Article Comment teacher1973 commented at 10/13/2009 10:13:00 AM:

It is so easy for you to make negative comments without walking in Dr. Limbert's shoes. How well would those of you who are so critical of her decisions have handled the same situations. I commend Dr. Limbert for her effort to sustain the university despite much criticism. Alumni from every university must deal with the element of change, and those are never easy decisions. Instead of being so critical of Dr. Limbert, we should determine what each one of us must do as Mississippians to improve our universities and grow the enrollment. It is evident by many of the insensitive comments and inaccurate comments that we need a more educated citizenry in this state. Dr. Limbert was clearly an eloquent and mission oriented leader who deserves the same respect that each of you would desire.

I urge you to look at the facts when making negative comments about the integrity of others. If only 3% of women nationwide say they would consider attending a women's college, what is the motive for arguing against a name change such as Reneau University? We must not only be competitive in Mississippi, we must also compete internationally. So who are we really trying to brand ourselves for? Are we content with where we are or do we really want MUW to move forward? Unfortunately, in most cases, moving forward means change.

Again, I commend Dr. Limbert for analyzing data and being an agent for change.


Article Comment 2004Wgrad commented at 10/13/2009 11:10:00 AM:

I'm glad to see her go. I hope the IHL tosses the idea of the name change, and I hope the school finally gets a president that understands the special environment and traditions that make up the experience of attending. The campus is such a close-knit community, and the alumni have truly been alienated by Limbert. The alumni should be the biggest supporters of the school, and I think if the thoughts and reactions of that group were considered at all, then things would be very different right now. You don't tell the people who send the school money that their ideas and feelings don't matter, that just doesn't make good financial sense. I hope to see the W rebound and continue to be the wonderful school I remember.


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/13/2009 1:37:00 PM:

"the alumni have truly been alienated by Limbert."

Not all alumni.

"You don't tell the people who send the school money that their ideas and feelings don't matter, that just doesn't make good financial sense."

Ideas and feelings (i.e. EMOTIONS) cannot run businesses - and universities are businesses. I was not a regular contributor to the W until all the alumni mess began - because I wanted to show my support for the university and felt that was a good way to do it. Unfortunately, some people chose to pull their donations. Of course, this is America and people can choose to which entitities they give money - but it sure seemed a lot like little kids who, when they don't get their way, take their toys and go home.


Article Comment Go Now! commented at 10/13/2009 2:06:00 PM:

I am glad Limbert is leaving. She has never had a grip on what is needed to be done as president. Actually, many people know that Limbert has been trying to find another job since shortly after arriving at the "W" (her stepping-stone)...but I guess no other schools will hire her. Limbert has been very divisive (along with her goon Perry Sansing...hope he goes too!) and damaging to the "W," Columbus, and Lowndes County. What a mess she has made! Her legacy will be one of incompetence and divisiveness. Limbert has made many many alums and the community for pushing a name change nobody really wants and for destroying the alumni association. There is not one shred of evidence that changing the name will increase enrollment. What has Limbert done besides leave a huge mess? Limbert and her idiot lawyer (Perry Sansing...hope he goes too!) have had lawsuits one after the other since she has been here. I hope the next president will be actually qualified to do the job. I am surprised she just doesn't leave now. It's only going to keep folks pissed until she is gone anyway.


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/13/2009 2:55:00 PM:


Some people dislike Dr. Limbert and they assume everyone else dislikes her, too.

Did you read the article in today's paper? Some community leaders support Dr. Limbert. Some IHL members are also her fans. I'm sure that reading such just sticks in the craw of those that spew hate.

I think y'all just need some Jesus.


Article Comment GotJesus commented at 10/13/2009 3:43:00 PM:

Judge Not, MUWgrad!

I think you are being presumptuous to think that all those who disagree with Limbert or even feel that she has not been an effective administrator also HATE her! Yes, there have been some unnecessary and cruel comments made in some of these posts, but those responders do not speak for all alumni either.


Article Comment Go Now! commented at 10/13/2009 3:47:00 PM:

Yes, I have read today's article. I agree that not everyone dislikes Limbert, but the facts are still the facts. Limbert has caused and created a divisive mess. The school, students, alumni, and community have put up with enough from her and her idiot lawyer, Perry Sansing (I hope he goes too). MUW has taken a beating in the press, the courts, and in public opinion since she has been president. Not since I've witnessed a guy dropping a banana in his pants and then setting a monkey loose have I seen such mess. Limbert is incompetent and has no expertise in trying to fix the mess she is leaving. Let's face it, until Limbert leaves and a new president comes in will there be hope for the future of MUW.


Article Comment GotJesus commented at 10/13/2009 4:50:00 PM:

Judge Not, MUWgrad!

I think you are being presumptuous to think that all those who disagree with Limbert or even feel that she has not been an effective administrator also HATE her! Yes, there have been some unnecessary and cruel comments made in some of these posts, but those responders do not speak for all alumni either.


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/14/2009 10:03:00 AM:

I'd say that the people who plotted to get Dr. Limbert fired are the ones who caused the divisiveness. The ones who cried that the Foundation was corrupt also created discord. Oh, and what about those who sued the university? That kind of caused a little rift.


Article Comment Go Now! commented at 10/14/2009 11:28:00 AM:

As far as anyone "plotting" to fire Limbert, I do not know anything about that. Is she not leaving on her own timetable? As for the Foundation, what exactly did the alumni do? Disagree with Limbert? Shouldn't the alumni have a say so over what to do and how to do it? As for those that sued the university, shouldn't folks stand up for their rights when they have been wronged? Is what I have just stated the "plot" to get rid of her? All these negative actions add up under Limbert's watch...which has caused division and are unprecedented.
MUWgrad, you are actually making my points for me. Limbert is leaving a mess, which is going to take a great deal of time and effort to clean up after she is gone. The name change is her biggest folly and has caused nothing but bad blood for many, and folks are going to be pissed for years over this. Limbert is doing nothing but cutting and running. Changing the name of a historic university to be more politically correct just does not cut it. Nobody is stopping males from attending the university since the early 80's. As for enrollment, which is a key issue, the university could do a helluva lot better job if they made a bigger commitment towards advertising and recruitment. There are literally thousands of students within a 200 mile radius of Columbus that can be more efficiently recruited if the "W" would go after these folks more effectively. Limbert does not bring people together...she divides them. The only thing Limbert has done is take a huge squat on everyone and now bailout. If you support Limbert fine. I do not agree with some of the harsh comments posted either, but the negative posts are highly representative of the legacy Limbert will be leaving.


Article Comment Go Now! commented at 10/14/2009 11:31:00 AM:

One other thing MUWgrad. How dare you bring the name of Jesus into this discussion! Who are you to judge the souls of anyone who may disagree with Limbert?


Article Comment MUWgrad commented at 10/14/2009 11:33:00 AM:

I'd say that the people who plotted to get Dr. Limbert fired are the ones who caused the divisiveness. The ones who cried that the Foundation was corrupt also created discord. Oh, and what about those who sued the university? That kind of caused a little rift.


Article Comment Child of MSCW commented at 10/14/2009 4:33:00 PM:

My father worked for the W for 16 years. I grew up riding my bike over every sidewalk, swimming in the indoor and outdoor pool, taking piano lessons,was educated by masters'-prepared teachers and under-graduate student teachers at Demonstration School. We drove students back and forth to church for revival meetings. I went to many Magnolia Chains and talent shows. I attended the W my freshman year pledging a club and Theatre Guild. The traditions became more personally a part of my life. I loved it. Unfortunately, there was a not a nursing program at the time, and I had to transfer.
I believe keeping the name reflects those unique traditions, and I understand the desire to keep it. Reneau U. would carry the name of one of the founders, but nationally people might not know it
is the former MUW. I would be open, however, to a study that reflects how men respond to the name and if it keeps them from applying. I agreed with other writers that there needs to be more aggressive advertising to bring in more female and male students.
It is my hope that with new leadership MUW will grow and continue to be a leader in fine education.


Article Comment Guess I''m Going... commented at 10/14/2009 10:49:00 PM:

...straight to h*** because I disagree with Limbert, think she made some CRAPPY business decisions, sucks as a university administrator, and would help her pack her bags in a heartbeat. If that sounds harsh, so be it. I've watched her since day 1 do things to alienate alums who were sincere and genuinely curious - alums who had no ulterior motive. Unless you call caring for their university an ulterior motive.

Nobody is doing this kind of thing to TX Woman's University, and they have a gender-specific name as well! That is what really ticks me off royally - one example of great support vs. one example of pathetic lack of support.

I cannot wait to see the day that Limbert's taillights vanish into a cloud of dust as she exits Lowndes County. It will be NONE TOO SOON, I assure you!


Article Comment FCL commented at 10/21/2009 11:15:00 PM:

Claudia Limbert should at least have the integrity to give credit
where credit is due: Clyda Rent is responsible for the large increase
in the MUW Foundation's coffers. It was Dr. Rent who graciously courted the benefactors that ended-up making their donations under Claudia Limbert's tenure.


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