Simpson College President John Byrd announced Wednesday morning that he will retire at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. 

Byrd, who turns 63 this week, is Simpson’s 22nd president. He and his wife, Nancy, joined the campus community in the summer before the 2005-06 academic year.

“In thinking about when to retire and, more importantly, about the right timing for Simpson, I concluded that with a number of projects coming to fruition it was the right time for a transition of leadership,” Byrd said in a release.

Fred Hubbell, chairman of Simpson’s board of trustees, praised Byrd’s leadership.

“He has done an excellent job as president of the college,” Hubbell said. “We fully understand his desire to pursue something different at this point in his life, while at the same time we will miss his strong leadership and guidance. Even the timing of his announcement points to his dedication to Simpson. By announcing his plans prior to the end of the academic year, he has allowed us to begin the search process while students and faculty are still on campus.”

Byrd’s tenure has included many successful initiatives, including a new curriculum that has received national recognition. The look of the historic, 151-year-old private college has also changed. Under his leadership, the college is expected to hold the grand opening this fall of the $14 million Kent Campus Center. The Blank Performing Arts Center was expanded, and plans are underway for an improved fitness center.

“What I’m proudest of is what we’ve all done together,” Byrd said. “All of those have been major projects, and I feel I’ve been involved in helping move Simpson forward in very positive ways.”