Salt Lake Community College President Lynn Cundiff is known among colleagues as a visionary and bridge-builder.
Now, he's poised to take his talents to a private business — outside Utah.
Cundiff on Wednesday announced he would resign to pursue "a limited-window entrepreneurial opportunity." His resignation is effective May 23, after the current semester.
Cundiff will take a job in the field of technology innovations, friends and colleagues say. He is expected to be the CEO of a new business venture that combines four existing groups. The job requires national travel.
Cundiff has a national reputation in technology education. Microsoft chief Bill Gates once cited Floyd College, the 3,000-student college in northwest Georgia he left to come to SLCC, as a showcase for how technology can be used.
Cundiff also has been working on creating educational holograms which, for example, might feature George Washington talking in front of a Mount Vernon backdrop.
Cundiff said he was excited for a new challenge, but sad to leave SLCC.
"My wife Glenda and I have come to love the college, the students, the faculty, the staff and the entire community with all our hearts," he said in a prepared statement. "We will always remember our time here with great fondness."
Cundiff has made his mark on higher education since replacing Frank Budd, who took a teaching job at Weber State University after nine years as SLCC president.
He has become known for "innovations with the use of technology, a new energy he brought to campus, (his) looking at the development of the Jordan campus, continuing the development of the Larry Miller Campus and making certain more opportunities were available to students in the greater Wasatch Front area," Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Cecelia Foxley said.
For instance, Cundiff worked to bring the University of Utah and SLCC closer together, U. President Bernie Machen said.
The two institutions worked together to help SLCC students intending to transfer to the U. build more appropriate schedules. Now, with a U. counselor working in a SLCC office, the institutions hope students can transfer classes with ease.
Cundiff, former executive vice chancellor of the Alabama College System, also helped other state colleges and universities improve information technology and databases.
"I thought he was a great asset for Salt Lake Community College and, therefore, for Utah," Machen said. "I think a company will find it advantageous to have him as one of their employees."
Under Cundiff's leadership, SLCC also strengthened ties with public education, particularly with Jordan School District — the state's largest with 74,000 students.
SLCC shares its West Jordan campus with the Jordan Applied Technology Center, where high school kids take specialty classes to train themselves for specific careers.
The college and school district also are working together to create a biotechnology-based New Century High School, one of a string of charter high schools backed by the Gov. Mike Leavitt and the billion-dollar Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"I'm going to miss his support and enthusiasm," Jordan Superintendent Barry Newbold said. "I really appreciate the foundation he has built for our partnership, and because of that I'm confident it will continue."
SLCC Vice President of Student Services Judd Morgan has been named interim president. The Utah Board of Regents will appoint a search committee, perhaps in the next week, and take input on what SLCC would like to see in a new president.
The presidential search, which could last six months to a year, will be shrouded from public purview. But names of the finalists will be released, regents spokesman Dave Buhler said.