KWC names 33rd president

UPDATE: We will hold a news conference to introduce Dr. Craig and Annette Turner at 11 a.m. this Wednesday, May 4, in the Smith Lounge (Winchester Student Center). Stay tuned for more details.

UDPATE: Media coverage of the announcement:

- Messenger-Inquirer - article below
- 14WFIE (NBC) - Kentucky Wesleyan College welcomes a new president
- NEWS25 (ABC) - KWC appoints new president
- Tristate Homepage (FOX) - KWC names 33rd president


By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, April 29, 2011

Dr. Craig Turner was named the new president of Kentucky Wesleyan College Friday, becoming the 33rd president of the college and the successor of President Cheryl King, who announced last October that she would not seek an extension of her contract.

Turner has been president at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., since 2008 and was president of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, from 2001 to 2008. Turner has also held the positions of executive vice president, chief operating officer, chief academic officer and vice president for academic affairs at Hardin-Simmons.

Turner was the top choice out of 128 applicants, and the board of trustees’ vote was unanimous.

Turner said he is pleased with being picked to head KWC because of how it fits with his chosen path in life.

“I’m strongly committed to private, smaller residential schools,” Turner said. “In higher education, I think it’s where a lot of young people come to get a full education, not just academics. They can grow socially, spiritually and in a lot of other ways.”

Turner said he especially is looking forward to helping KWC build itself back, especially in areas of enrollment.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be at two schools who were making turnarounds. They were moving in a new and different direction,” Turner said. “I love being a change agent. I love managing change and leading change. That’s something I think all my visits at KWC have proven to me, that people there are ready to move forward and move it up to the next level, and I’m excited about the opportunity to do that.

“The economy nationally, of course, has made it extremely difficult for all higher education institutions, particularly smaller liberal arts institutions like KWC,” Turner said. “We need to increase the number of students. I think the school has enormous potential. I think there needs to be continuity and attention paid to the admissions area. I’ve had experience with that.”

To help boost enrollment, Turner said he is glad to have “the opportunity to let the secret out.”

“Schools like Kentucky Wesleyan, they’re holistic institutions. It’s difficult to separate things. All of the areas make contributions,” Turner said. “I think marketing is clearly a major issue for the school that we have to improve. The school has so much to offer.”

Turner is the third president to come to KWC in seven years. King became president of KWC in July 2008, replacing Anne Federlein, who resigned.

Mitch Settle, chair of the KWC Board of Trustees, said Turner’s biggest challenges will come in the form of running the business of the school.

“It is a business, and I think a lot of people don’t look at it that way. We looked at that in our strategic plan. We’re in the business to educate these young people and change their lives,” Settle said. “His No. 1 objective is going to be increasing enrollment and keeping our retention numbers very high. I think that’s a challenge of any institution.”

Part of the road map for the college that Turner will be following includes the college’s strategic plan, which King helped prepare prior to her departure. That plan includes re-evaluation of the college’s business involvement and assets on multiple levels.

Settle said Turner’s previous experiences, particularly his background in administering a college from the business side, were very appealing.

“Craig Turner rose right to the top. We narrowed it down to three people last week and had all-day interviews, with faculty, students and staff,” Settle said. “I think from a credential standpoint, he’s very impressive. How he’s increased enrollment is very impressive. He’s been very successful where is now (in managing the budget). He developed some very strategic initiatives, increasing enrollment 12 percent in 2009, balancing their budget each year he’s been there.”

Settle also said Turner is impressive as a person by his nature and attitude.

“This guy has got a big focus on students and making it a great experience for students. We also just really like him as a person, and his wife,” Settle said. “All our candidates were top-notch, but we felt the most comfortable with this particular gentleman and the way he would fit in with our students, faculty and staff.”

In particular, the quality of the choice in Turner is a reflection on the caliber of the work done by the search committee that chose him, with this being “the most important decision for the future of our college,” Settle said.

“Our search committee, I can’t be more proud of,” Settle said. “They spent an enormous amount of time in doing this.”

No start date has yet been announced for Turner, but KWC officials said a press conference will be held next week. Turner is also expected to make a visit to campus next week.

Both he and his wife are looking forward to what is ahead, Turner said.

“We feel like this is a real gift from God, a blessing in the chance to come to KWC,” Turner said.

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