Daniel H. Weiss, president of Haverford College, is leaving after only two years to head the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, officials announced Tuesday.

His presidential tenure is the shortest in Haverford's 181-year history, though the previous leader, Stephen G. Emerson, wasn't there much longer - four years.

"Although my time at Haverford has been relatively brief, my experience here has been profound," Weiss, 57, said in an e-mail to the Haverford community.

The Met job will be Weiss' first outside higher education, but the transition will not be so unusual for an art historian with an MBA. Weiss, who grew up on Long Island and visited the musem as a child, said in his e-mail he's held "a lifelong interest in museums."

Now, he will run the nation's largest art museum and one of the most popular in the world, with 6.2 million people visiting the fiscal year that ended in June. He starts this summer.

Haverford, a highly selective liberal arts college on the Main Line, serves about 1,200 students and has an endowment of about $480 million.

Haverford announced Weiss' hiring in May 2012 and waited more than a year for him to take the helm in July 2013, so he could fulfill his commitment to Lafayette College in Easton, where he had been president since 2005.

Under Weiss' leadership, Haverford ended its all-grant financial aid policy, saying that was too expensive, and reintroduced loans. The college also faced divisiveness over one of its commencement speakers last spring. After students protested the selection of Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, one of the other speakers, William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton, used the occasion to deliver a sharp rebuke to students, calling their approach "immature" and "arrogant."

The college also received its largest single gift in its history under Weiss - $25 million from Howard Lutnick, chairman of the board of managers.

Weiss has been a staunch defender of the liberal arts. In 2013, he wrote and coedited a book, Remaking College, with former Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp on the vital role liberal arts play in educating the world's leaders and problem solvers.

Lutnick praised Weiss.

"Dan leaves Haverford in a position of strength," he said.

Haverford will look to fill the position in the coming months.


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