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Folger Story

Letter on behalf of the Board

To colleagues, partners, and friends of the Folger:

I write on behalf of the Board of Governors to share some bittersweet news. After 12 years of visionary and transformative leadership as Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Dr. Michael Witmore has notified the Board that he will be stepping down next year.

We have accepted Mike’s plans reluctantly, but with the deepest appreciation for his remarkable and inspirational leadership across more than a decade. As you know, Mike has led the Folger through a period of exciting and important change, including an exceptionally complex $80.5 million building renovation.

Indeed, Mike has had a deep impact on all aspects of the Folger’s work. During his tenure, the Folger’s endowment has grown substantially. Working with the Board, Mike executed the most successful capital campaign in the institution’s history. He shepherded our team through the COVID-19 pandemic and advanced our public programming, education, and collections-based research. And, of particular note, he has led us all by championing access, inclusiveness and engagement with our community.

The impressive renovation that is now nearing completion is a vital aspect of meeting this objective. When you and many others visit the Folger after our reopening, you will experience a warm and truly inviting welcome coupled with the opportunity to be in conversation with Shakespeare’s world and to encounter extraordinary rare materials. The Board of Governors, joined with Mike, is enormously proud of the hard work in which all members of our staff are so intensely engaged to meet this moment. Together, we look forward to seeing you soon in a newly expanded, beautiful space, as we take this exciting new step in the journey of a very special institution.

Last, a word on our search for a new Director.  Mike thoughtfully gave the Board ample advanced notice of his departure. We are grateful for this because it allows us to plan a smooth transition to the next Director, whom we expect to announce and have in place by next summer.  In the coming weeks, the Board will establish an inclusive and consultative search process. Of course, we are thankful that Mike remains fully engaged and will lead us to our reopening and beyond.

To all our colleagues, friends and partners, thank you for your engagement and support of the Folger.

All best,

Jarrett Arp

D. Jarrett Arp
Chair, Board of Governors