Dr. Frederick Whitt Named 12th president of Lenoir-Rhyne University

Staff Writer

HICKORY, N.C. – The Board of Trustees at Lenoir-Rhyne University has announced that Dr. Frederick (Fred) K. Whitt, has been named the 12th President of Lenoir-Rhyne University. Dr. Whitt was introduced to the Lenoir-Rhyne community this morning as faculty, staff, students, board members, constituents and other friends filled Grace Chapel for the much anticipated announcement.

Dr. Whitt will be succeeding the successful presidency of Dr. Wayne B. Powell. Dr. Powell was one of the first to welcome Dr. Whitt to the LR Bear family. "I am really excited to have Dr. Whitt succeed me as president of Lenoir-Rhyne,” Dr. Powell said. “He has a long history of distinguished leadership in higher education. I am confident that Dr. Whitt is the right person at the right time to lead Lenoir-Rhyne to even greater heights in the next generation."

Dr. Whitt brings over 30 years of successful leadership experience in higher education to Lenoir-Rhyne. He is currently the Founding Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS) at Appalachian State University, and has served in this capacity since 2010 when he was named to lead the first new college developed at Appalachian in over 40 years. Dr. Whitt’s visionary leadership, passion for excellence, commitment for creating a collaborative culture, and development of significant community partnerships are credited for the success he has achieved at Appalachian State. His leadership as the Founding Dean has been transformative. The BCHS has doubled in enrollment over the first four years of existence and is now the second largest college at Appalachian with 3,400 students, new graduate degree programs have been added, and funding was secured and construction has begun on the new $80 million, 203,000 square foot health sciences building which is scheduled for completion Summer 2018. In addition, Dr. Whitt established Appalachian’s successful partnership with the Wake Forest School of Medicine, which is the first of its kind in the UNC system, secured funding for the first two endowed professorships in BCHS, and was responsible for establishing the Dean’s Scholarship, now the third most prestigious scholarship at Appalachian.

The recommendation to hire Dr. Whitt was brought to the Board of Trustees by Jearld Leonhardt who served as chairman of the search committee. "The Presidential Search Committee was very pleased to have found and nominated Dr. Whitt to the Trustees of the University,” Leonhardt said. “There was a strong consensus among the Committee in support of Dr. Whitt’s nomination based on his outstanding academic credentials, significant experience and noteworthy achievements in higher education. The Committee also believes that Dr. Whitt clearly respects the history, accomplishments, traditions and values of Lenoir-Rhyne and is altogether a good fit for the University at this time." Leonhardt is co-founder and former Chief Financial Officer of CommScope and an alumnus of LRU. He is serving his seventh year on the Board of Trustees for the University and is chair of the board’s finance and investment committee.

Dr. Whitt expressed his appreciation to Appalachian State and his excitement about his new appointment. “Someone once said, there is no heavier burden than a great opportunity. Returning to my alma mater to begin a new college was special, and I am grateful to Appalachian for their support during my time as Founding Dean. At the same time, I am incredibly excited about this extraordinary opportunity at Lenoir-Rhyne. I am honored and humbled to be named the 12th President of Lenoir Rhyne University. I have always had great respect for Lenoir-Rhyne. The bedrock principles that are unique to Lenoir-Rhyne are values I enthusiastically embrace and support. I welcome this incredible opportunity to work with faculty, staff, students and the greater community to advance the strategic plan of LR and lead the university to an even higher level of excellence.”

Boyd George, Chairman of LRU Board of Trustees, said, “I believe that Dr. Whitt has the talent, experience and enthusiasm to lead Lenoir-Rhyne to new levels of achievement. I am excited by the potential growth under his leadership.” George initially headed the search committee following Dr. Powell’s announcement of his retirement in September 2015. He is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Alex Lee, Inc.

Dr. Whitt is looking forward to becoming significantly involved in the broader community. “It is evident that Lenoir-Rhyne University has a strong relationship with the Hickory and Catawba County region,” he said. “We will continue to embrace and support the greater community, promoting a welcoming and collaborative campus environment.”

Dr. Whitt will assume the position of University President on February 1, 2017. Dr. Powell, who served as University President for 14 years, will retire on January 1. Under his leadership, the University has undergone bold initiatives, unprecedented growth, and financial success that have defined its administration.

“LR is quite a success story, and I commend the leadership of Dr. Powell, faculty and staff, alums, community leaders and the members of the Board of Trustees for the support and work they have done over the years advancing LRU to the status it enjoys today,” Dr. Whitt said. “The mission and traditions of LR are compatible with my own interests and values. I look forward to embracing and advocating for the core values that have and will continue to be unique to Lenoir-Rhyne.”

Whitt grew up in Mt. Holly, NC about 40 miles south of Hickory. He and his wife Donna, who is also from NC and a Nurse Educator, have been married for 38 years and they are the proud parents of two adult married sons. Dr. Whitt earned his Doctorate from the University of Tennessee, and his Master or Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Appalachian State.

In his spare time, Dr. Whitt enjoys landscaping and yardwork, music, the arts, following college sports, and spending time with family.

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