In the last two hundred years, Maryville College has had eleven presidents. The current president, Dr. Tom Bogart, announced his decision to depart from Maryville College in July 2019. Since then, the search for the college’s twelfth president has been in the works.
The process of finding Maryville College’s new president has been a quiet one that only a handful have been a part of. The college held small forums for students, faculty, and staff on what they were looking for in the new president. Dr. Gabbie Kerr, lecture of management, understood why the college decided to handle the search in a way of secrecy.
“It is such a change from the norm in the academic field,” Kerr said. “And while it’s is hard, they believed it would offer more of an opportunity for a large pool of candidates.”
According to student body president and student representative of the Search Committee, Aaron Solomon, Maryville College had over seventy applicants apply for the position. Both men and women applied, along with a numerous amount of people of color.
“The diversity of the applicants actually met the national average, which is good,” Solomon said.
Dr. Mary Kay Sullivan, a professor of Social Sciences and a co-chair of the Search Committee, reported that the number was lowered to eleven semi-finalists, and later four finalists. Multiple days of interviews where held at an off-campus location. Both Solomon and Sullivan stated that the Search Committee has entered the final stages of selecting Maryville College’s newest president last week.
Ali Lawson and Caleb Underdown, junior Business Analytics majors, both hope that the new president will have a strong, clear, long-term vision for the college.
“I would look for a president that can utilize the resources that we have, still improve campus life, but work under the assumption that Maryville College is going to be here for the long run,” Underdown said.
He hopes that this will be done by doing what is best for students and keeping in mind the cost for students. Lawson wants to see a president that is not just an administrator, but also an advocate for the students.
“I would like to see someone who can listen to student concerns; I would hope to see this become more of a forefront for the new president,” Lawson said. Both Underdown and Lawson would like to see an update on Sutton Science Center, which houses many different majors.
Fundraising and business skills are something multiple members of the Maryville College community hope to see in the twelfth president.
“They need to have an open mind on how we can raise money, how we can recruit students, and also on our current processes and procedures,” Kerr said. However, she hopes the president will bring new ideas to the table.
“The ability to make a change and say ‘I know it’s been done like this for a long time, but it is time for a shift’ [will be important], which can be difficult with an institution like us with a lot of history,” Kerr said.
Regarding academics, Noah Bowman, assistant director for learning services, wants to see someone who is focused on growing the college.
“A focus in program developments, expanding our current programs, and adding new ones as well,” he said. Updates to academic buildings is also something Bowman would like to see.
Coming into a presidential role at an institution that is rich in history is a difficult action to do. Kerr hopes that the members of the community also give some grace to the new president.
“Change is hard, and the person has a lot to take in,” she said. “And while doing so, the new relationships that will be formed is something many look forward to.”
Maryville College’s newest and 12th president will be formally names and announced on Thursday, Feb. 13. The new president will be addressing the campus community at three different sessions on the same day with “informal” meet-and-greets following each one. These sessions will be at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Lambert Recital Hall located in Clayton B.