The Franklin Institute announced Wednesday President and CEO Dennis Wint, the longest-serving leader in the museum's 189-year history, will conclude his tenure effective Dec. 31, 2014.
The museum noted in a release the move comes "after nearly 20 years of transformational leadership" and credited Wint with raising the Institute's profile "significantly in recent years, both nationally and internationally" through long-range strategic planning and outreach to underserved populations.
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"Dennis Wint has been the face of science learning for The Franklin Institute and has inspired the staff, the board, and me personally for two decades," board chairwoman Marsha Perelman said in a statement.
"His contributions and legacy will endure for generations to come and his vision, sound fiscal management, and ability to develop effective and beneficial collaborations have quite literally transformed the future of the Institute and its capacity to impact and inspire tomorrow’s leaders."
Wint in 1996 led the Institute to adopt the first in a series of strategic plans outlining ambitious goals for the organization, including the launch of new educational programs for hard-to-reach populations and the refurbishment of core exhibits in the Institute's 1934 museum building, such as the Giant Heart.
The Institute has since invested nearly $130 million to renovate existing components, as well as to break ground for the planned 53,000 square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, the museum's first expansion in more than 25 years.
Wint beginning in 2004 led the Institute in hosting international traveling science exhibitions such as "Body Worlds" and "King Tut," and in 2009 mounted a successful campaign to secure the Galileo telescope for a one-time-only exhibition, resulting in the exclusive world premiere of "Galileo the Medici and the Age of Astronomy."
"The Franklin Institute’s prominent position as a leading educational and cultural resource in the region is due in large part to the vision laid out by Dennis during his tenure and his dedication to translating that vision into reality," Franklin Institute Vice-Chair Don Morel said in a statement.
"Dennis raised the bar, transforming a staid, conservative institution to an innovative forward thinking model focused on science education and the ever increasing importance of technology in economic development and our everyday lives."
In an effort to engage with a larger portion of the surrounding community, The Institute three years ago launched the Philadelphia Science Festival, estimated to have reached 300,000 participants in its first three years, and partnered with the School District of Philadelphia to open the Science Leadership Academy magnet high school.
"It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of this great institution and all that has been accomplished these past many years," Wint said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"I will forever be grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with the Institute’s committed Board of Trustees, highly talented staff and volunteers, and dedicated family of supporters, to elevate science learning and strengthen science education in the Philadelphia region and the nation."
Wint will starting this fall serve as a part-time member of Drexel University's faculty, responsible for heading up its new graduate program in museum leadership, and will in 2015 assume a full-time position as a Drexel professor.
The Franklin Institute Board of Trustees has formed a committee to undertake a search for his replacement.