SCHENECTADY — Dr. William "Mac" Sudduth, lured out of retirement five years ago to take the reins of the Museum of Innovation and Science, will step down as president on Jan. 1.
An Oklahoma native who spent much of his career at museums in Atlanta and Dallas, Sudduth said he is remaining in the Schenectady area and will continue to have a role with miSci beyond his January departure as president.
"I'm going to be here on a part-time basis, consulting with our project directors," Sudduth said Wednesday afternoon. "We haven't picked a title for what I'll be doing, but I'm not going anywhere."
When he was hired by miSci in 2012 as executive director, Sudduth had recently retired as director of the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta. He spent 10 years in the Atlanta area, and before that had been president and CEO of The Science Plaza in Dallas, now known as the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science. After graduating from the University at Oklahoma with a degree in chemistry, Sudduth switched careers and got into the museum field, opening Omniplex in Oklahoma City, now known as Science Museum Oklahoma.
"When I first took the job in Schenectady, I came out of retirement to do it," said Sudduth, whose original job title was changed from director to president after two years with miSci. "So I think succession is real important to the life of a non-profit, and I thought this was an appropriate time. I'll remain president until January to help the whole transition process."
MiSci's board of directors also announced Wednesday it has created a special committee to conduct a national search for Sudduth's successor. Board member Bradley Lewis said Sudduth was the perfect candidate when he was hired five years ago, and nothing has happened to alter that assessment.
"As a longtime miSci trustee and a member of the search committee that hired Dr. Sudduth in 2012, I could not be prouder of our decision," Lewis said in a statement released by the museum. "Dr. Sudduth has proven to be the leader we'd hope for, and the president miSci needed, to become the leading regional science center it is today. The trustees are grateful to Dr. Sudduth for his countless contributions to the success and growth of miSci and his desire to remain involved in the museum's future endeavors, and we are excited to find the next leader to continue the momentum he has built within the staff and organization."
Attendance at miSci has increased significantly under Sudduth, who introduced new exhibits, including the butterfly house and robotic dinosaurs, and launched the Science Festival of the Capital Region. He has also overseen programs such as the Teen Science Cafe for high school students and the Explainers workforce development project for inner-city youths.
"The changes we have made in miSci over the past five years are the result of the efforts of our dedicated board, staff, volunteers, donors and supporters," Sudduth said. "I got some small things done, and I got some big things done. There were a lot of highlights, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help make a difference, and I am excited about helping the new miSci president move us through the next phase of our big vision."
According to Wednesday's miSci news release, Sudduth will be "providing guidance, support and oversight of strategic expansion ventures, including an arboretum project at Mohawk Harbor, an expansion into adjacent historic Vale Park and the launch of a new exhibit program."
MiSci Board of Trustees President Tony Farah praised Sudduth for his service to the museum.
"The museum has arrived at precisely the situation the trustees had envisioned when Dr. Sudduth was hired, having positioned miSci as the region's leading science center at a time when STEM awareness and education is a high public priority. We are eager to find our next leader, and that leader will step into an organization poised for even more exciting growth."