Dr. W. Craig Turner was officially installed as Catawba College's 21st President on President's Day, Monday, February 16, 2009. The date coincided with the federal holiday, Washington's Birthday or President's Day, and the annual meeting of the College's Board of Trustees.
The installation ceremony took place at 4 p.m. in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center on campus. Paul Fisher, the new chairman of the College Board of Trustees, officiated at the event. Read Installation Address »
Turner was selected as Catawba's president from more than 156 candidates. That pool of candidates included 15 sitting or former college or university presidents, 22 provosts or academic affairs' professionals, and 28 deans. Turner's appointment was announced in February 2008 after trustees approved a recommendation by the College's Presidential Search Committee.
Turner, who was in his sixth year as President of Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) in Abilene, Texas when his appointment was announced, succeeded Dr. Robert E. Knott who retired in May 2008 after six years of service to Catawba.
In October, at the semi-annual meeting of the Catawba College Board of Trustees, Turner noted four key areas that the college needs to focus on over the next five years under his leadership. These included financial stability, increasing and stabilizing enrollment, improving faculty salaries and faculty development opportunities, and improving the college's marketing efforts.
Turner joined the administration and faculty of Hardin-Simmons University in 1992, serving as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of English from 1992 to 1996. He then became Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer until he was named Chief Operating Officer in June 2000. Dr. Turner then served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at HSU for a year before becoming the 14th President of Hardin-Simmons University on June 1, 2001.
During his tenure as President, HSU saw record enrollments (2,435 in the fall of 2007), record endowment and similar funds ($121.5 million in 2007), and surplus budgets. HSU finished the most successful fund-raising campaign in its history in December of 2006, having raised $49.7 million. The University successfully completed its Commission on Colleges reaccreditation in 2007 and was chosen as a Top Tier institution by U.S. News & World Report for six consecutive years and a Best in the West institution by Princeton Review for five consecutive years.
Turner was active in the Abilene, Texas, community, serving on the Boards of organizations such as United Way of Abilene, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Serenity House, the Abilene Philharmonic, and the Abilene Humanities Council. He also served on the Boards of the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Schools, and the Consortium for Global Education, which he currently chairs.
Dr. Turner came to HSU from Mississippi College (MC) in Clinton, Mississippi, where he was Head of the English Department and Professor of English from 1985 to 1992. While at MC, he was chosen as "Teacher of the Year," cited as "Scholar of the Year," and elected President of the Faculty. His wife, Annette, taught for 17 years in elementary schools in Texas and in Mississippi.
Previously, he served as a tenured Assistant and Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University from 1976 to 1985 and as a visiting instructor at Baylor University in 1974-1975. Dr. Turner earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Tulane University in British and American Literature in 1977, and earned two degrees from Baylor: the Master of Arts in English in 1971 and the Bachelor of Arts in English and History in 1969. He has edited three books — The Poet Robert Browning and his Kinsfolk, Critical Essays in American Humor, and Critical Essays in Eudora Welty — as well as having published more than two dozen scholarly articles, essays, and chapters in books. Since he greatly enjoys teaching, he tries to schedule a course every other year to stay active in the profession and in the classroom.
Dr. Turner and wife Annette have two grown children: Scott, a Development Officer for Texas Tech University in Dallas, and Shannon Hays, an attorney, writer, and mother in Jacksonville, N.C. Shannon and her husband Mike, a Marine Corps Captain, have twin daughters: Madeleine and Peyton.
PHOTOS: Catawba's 21st President Installed
VIDEO: Installation Highlights
Dr. Turner's Installation Address (PDF)