John Ryder, the provost of the American University of Malta, has confirmed he will retire at the end of the month once his contract expires.
Ryder, 67, told Lovin Malta that he had the option to extend his three-year contract but decided that the time is right to call it a day.
“There’s no mystery or scandal about it, I’m just retiring,” he said. “A strong and qualified person will take my place and an announcement will be made soon.”
Ryder assessed his tenure at the AUM as “quite successful” and said he may remain attached to it in some form or other, although not as an employee.
“We managed to create a university that didn’t exist before and it’s up and running now,” he said. “I’d have loved not to have had some of the problems or mistakes we’ve had but start-ups are like that. I’m confident in the future of this university.”
Ryder, an American philosophy academic, became one of the AUM’s first appointees when he was hired in 2016. He had previously occupied a number of academic positions, including dean at the State University of New York, provost of the American University of Res Al Khaimah in the UAE and rector of the Khazar University in Azerbaijan.
The AUM, the brainchild of the Jordan-based Sadeen Group, was announced in 2015, promising an American-style private university education to students in the middle of the Mediterranean.
However, it has found itself mired in several controversies, most notably its plans to expand its current Cospicua campus to virgin land in Marsaskala. A low initial intake of students and a mass sacking of staff also saw the AUM accused by some of not being a legitimate university.
Yet it has since managed to improve its situation, completing infrastructural works on its campus, hiring a new group of staff and lecturers and attracting some 80 students as of last February.
It was officially launched in March, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat expressing his confidence that AUM will fulfil its contract with the government. The contract requires the AUM to complete its entire project by 2025 and attract 4,000 students in the following four years.