University alum David Westin announced his intent to resign as president of ABC News in an e-mail sent to his staff Monday night. Westin, who grew up in Ann Arbor and earned multiple degrees from the University, will step down after a 13-year reign in the top position — a job he managed to earn with almost no television background.

Stating that he felt it was time to move on, Westin will remain as president of ABC News until the end of the year, leaving the next few months to continue the search for his replacement.

“As rewarding as I’ve found my time here, there are some other things I want to do professionally — things that I cannot explore while fulfilling my responsibilities here,” Westin wrote in the e-mail as posted online by The New York Times. “I’m announcing my decision now so that I can pursue those possibilities, something I couldn’t do in fairness to all of you until I’d told you of my plans to step down.”

Westin has a deep-rooted history in Ann Arbor. He graduated from Pioneer High School in 1970 and enrolled in the University where he studied the oboe. He graduated in 1974, but continued to study at the University, enrolling in the Law School.

After graduating from the Law School in 1977, Westin served as a law clerk to J. Edward Lumbard of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and later for Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell.

In 1991, Westin accepted a position as general counsel at Capital Cities/ABC. He eventually became president of production, and in 1997, with almost no experience in television journalism prior to his counsel position, he became the president of ABC News.

Westin is in charge of “World News Tonight,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” and “World News Now.” He is the longest serving network news division president, responsible for multiple Emmy and Peabody awards and has made crucial decisions guiding the network through many changes including the search for a news anchor to replace Peter Jennings on “World News Tonight” in 2005.

The search for Jennings’ replacement was a turbulent period in Westin’s career, with “World News Tonight” going through four anchor changes in a five year period.

Fellow ‘U’ alum Bob Woodruff — who got his J.D. in 1987 — co-anchored the show with Elizabeth Vargas for four months before Woodruff resigned after suffering serious injuries while reporting in Iraq, and Vargas resigned shortly thereafter. Westin selected Charles Gibson as lead anchor, and he served for three years before retiring, leading Westin to fill the position with then-“Good Morning America” co-anchor Diane Sawyer.

Though he navigated the network through rough waters, some speculate that his struggles during a tough time for the news business could have influenced his decision to leave. In the past few years, ABC News has cut staff by 25 percent and according to a report in the Times, there is speculation that Disney executives were unhappy with ABC News’s financial performance.

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