David Andrews was dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education from 2010 to 2016. Portrait via hub.jhu.edu

David Andrews has resigned as president of La Jolla-based National University, one of the largest private nonprofit schools in the nation with more than two dozen campuses.

Andrews’ sudden departure — announced Tuesday with “bittersweet sentiment”— came in a 450-word letter to faculty and staff.

Letter to faculty and staff sent Tuesday. (PDF)

No explanation was given in the email from Michael R. Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System.

“Effective immediately, I will be returning to the presidency of National University,” Cunningham wrote. He’ll retain his chancellor role.

He hailed Andrews, 65, who came to San Diego after six years as dean of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“During his five years with the university, Dr. Andrews has been instrumental in leading many new initiatives to improve the lives of our students and the reputation of the institution,” Cunningham said.

“While we will miss Dr. Andrews, as well as his vision and passion for innovative approaches to education, we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

In 2018, according to tax records, Andrews made $581,000 in wages and other compensation. The school reported an endowment of $36.6 million and net assets of $822 million that year.

Before Johns Hopkins, Andrews was an associate professor and Extension State Specialist at Ohio State University’s Department of Family Relations and Human Development.

Earlier, he rose to head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Oregon State University.

He has a doctorate in child development from Florida State University after earning an associate degree at Pensacola Junior College in 1976, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University in 1977 and a master’s in child development from Kansas State University in 1980.  

His Wikipedia profile said Andrews has written research articles, book chapters and abstracts on topics that include addictive behaviors, the impacts that parenting has on college freshmen, family involvement in juvenile diversion, adolescent development, preventative interventions for high-risk youth and educational reform.

His first work of fiction, “My Father’s Day Gift,” was published in 2014.

In October 2019, it was announced that National University would be renamed Sanford National University following a $350 million gift from San Diego philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

The gift was said to be among the 15 largest in the history of U.S. education.

But less than a year later, NU said the plan to rename the 50-year-old school after the La Jolla billionaire had been put on hold following news reports that Sanford was the subject of a South Dakota child pornography investigation.

Cunningham closed his letter in part:

“I cannot thank Dr. Andrews enough for his years of dedicated service to our students, faculty, staff and entire community of National University and the National University System. We look forward to following the successes of his career and are excited for the next chapter of National University as we honor his vision and continue our important work to bring world-class, affordable and accessible education opportunities to a diverse population of adult learners.”

In a November 2020 interview with Bloomberg Opinion, Andrews said National University had committed to a 25% reduction in tuition during the pandemic.

“We offered free classes for the first four months of the pandemic to students who were adversely affected in their home institutions by the cancellation of courses,” he said. “For our own students, we put in place a number of new scholarships that allow us to reduce the impact of tuition.”

Andrews contrasted traditional four-year schools with his and others that cater to older adults — an average age of 33 for NU’s 25,000 students.

“Universities have to change their mind-set: They have to co-create and co-own a curriculum with those in [industry],” he said. “Otherwise, employers will create their own. The relevance of the university is going to diminish, especially in this sector that’s focusing on workforce preparation, if we’re not in lockstep agreement about what these credentials look like.”