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Catawba Provost Recognized by Rowan County Chamber of Commerce

January 23, 2015

Category: Academics, Faculty, History


bitzer2014.jpgDr. J. Michael Bitzer, Catawba College's Provost, was honored as the recipient of the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce at its 89th Annual Gala held January 22 on the Catawba campus.

The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award honors a Rowan Chamber group or individual who demonstrates a commitment to service and civic participation over a sustained period of time for the community; sets a standard and fosters a culture of citizenship, service and community responsibility; and demonstrates one or more of the following business values: integrity, stewardship, inclusion, and initiative.  Bitzer serves as moderator of the Chamber's Candidate Forums and received national and international news coverage in 2014 for his insightful political perspective on North Carolina's U.S. Senate Race.

Bitzer was named Provost at Catawba in early January of 2014.  He had been serving in the position on an acting basis since June 1, 2013. An associate professor of politics and history at Catawba, he joined the faculty in 2002.

At Catawba, Bitzer has been active in faculty governance, having chaired the Admissions Committee and served on the Curriculum Committee and the Assessment Committee. In 2010, he spearheaded a committee of faculty that produced "A White Paper on an Institutional Philosophy of Education at Catawba." This paper set forth the idea of a "liberal education" which unifies a liberal arts education and professional education into one over-arching philosophy.  At the time of his appointment as acting provost, he was serving as chair of the Department of History and Politics.

Bitzer came to Catawba as a visiting instructor in the Political Science Department and with a passion for Southern politics. A native of South Carolina, he was baptized in his passion in the early 1980s while in high school, landing a job as a page in the Washington, D.C. office of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Erskine College, a Master of Arts degree in history from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs, where he was selected as one of five "Excellence in Teaching" award winners for 2002. Before beginning work on his doctorate, he was a newspaper reporter and a public affairs director at Clemson University.

He was tapped by Catawba President Dr. Robert E. Knott to serve as Interim Dean of Admissions at the college from 2007 through the end of 2008. During that period, he managed the responsibilities of that position while continuing to teach a full slate of classes in his subject area. For the 2011-2012 academic year, he was the Swink Professor for Excellence in Teaching at Catawba, after a vote of the faculty senate.

He is frequently sought out by local, regional and national media outlets as a commentator on Southern politics and campaigns and elections. His comments have been used by "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "Christian Science Monitor," NPR, "The Charlotte Observer," "The News & Observer," "The State," and television stations in the Charlotte market.  He currently posts observations about regional and national politics in a blog entitled, "The Party Line," for WFAE, the Charlotte NPR affiliate.

Married to wife Andrea, the two are parents of son Andrew.