About President Douglas N. Searcy

Douglas-Searcy-for-web-300×300Dr. Douglas N. Searcy leads Barton College with a passionate calling and a bold strategic vision. During the past seven years, he has transformed the landscape of Barton College and its programs. In recognition of his distinguished leadership, Dr. Searcy was included in Business North Carolina’s Power List 2022 as one of North Carolina’s most influential business leaders in the education sector. He guides by example, and, as he shared in his inaugural speech in 2016, he empowers Barton’s faculty and staff to “stare down the challenges, anxiety, and risks of higher education, and boldly proclaim Barton’s purpose to serve students…we respond with a strong, resolute vision and will, but also with compassion, love, persistence, partnership, and the engagement of a community fully committed to student learning.” Throughout his tenure, Dr. Searcy has continued to remind this campus community, as he did on his Inauguration Day, “…being bold for Barton is our shared calling, one in which we all can participate. Boldness causes us to focus on the future, driven by the conviction of the possible.”

Accomplishments through the BartonBold Strategic Plan (first six years)

 Through the implementation of Dr. Searcy’s BartonBold Strategic Plan (2016-2021), the College has experienced exponential growth and vibrancy. A strong BartonBold brand was established, as the College implemented a targeted marketing effort and launched “Barton College: Where Bold Thinkers Form Bold Leaders” campaign. Dr. Searcy’s leadership through BartonBold deepened the College’s commitment to students while increasing growth in a measured and sustainable way.

Dr. Searcy’s passion for expanding the student experience has led to the development of a bold student development philosophy, endorsing five core principles that capture the essence of the Barton Experience and guide the work of the professional Barton community. A renewed focus on diversity and inclusion programming, vocational activities, and involvement in community service projects also has provided Barton students with additional opportunities to discover meaningful purpose in their lives, while developing a stronger sense of self and a broadened respect for others.

Preparing students to become bold leaders on campus, and later in their communities, has led to the incorporation of emotional intelligence testing and development to augment students’ academic and co-curricular growth. And, intentional discussions through diversity and inclusion programming, vocational activities, and involvement in community service projects have provided the opportunity for Barton students to discover meaningful purpose in their lives, while developing a stronger sense of self and a broadened respect for others.

In collaboration with faculty, the College has expanded the depth and scope of the academic programs on campus, introducing new master’s degree programs such as Criminology and Criminal Justice Sciences, and Kinesiology, and new undergraduate programs including Healthcare Administration, Photojournalism, and Interdisciplinary Arts and Media.

New programs, facilities, and services have opened the door to opportunities for student growth and learning. As a result, Barton has experienced its largest enrolling population in more than three decades under Dr. Searcy’s leadership; fundraising and campus investments have grown to new heights; and faculty, staff, and student relationships have thrived as the College has continued to respond to changing conditions and met anticipated needs.

Learning and living spaces have been reimagined on campus through comprehensive renovations, which have included Wenger Hall, the Georgia Brewer Campion Center for Academic Success, the Barton Esports Arena, Moye Science Hall Anatomy Laboratory, the Nursing Simulation Laboratory, the Sports Performance Center, Wilson Gymnasium, Hamlin Culinary Center, and the BC Bistro. In addition, a new Center for Religious Studies, significant structural and audio/visual technology renovations to Howard Chapel, and audio/visual technology enhancements in Hardy Alumni Hall have been completed during his tenure.

Through partnerships with Greenlight and the City of Wilson, Barton has defined strategies to advance technology, establishing Barton as a multi-gig campus following the installation of a fiber optic ring around campus. And new construction on campus transformed a bold vision into reality with the completion of Electric Supply Company Field, Truist Stadium, and the David S. Hicks Family Sports Operation Center, each named by signature donors of the College. These facility additions and others mentioned previously have created an undeniable energy and enthusiasm on the Barton College campus.

During Dr. Searcy’s presidency, evidence of expanded philanthropic support through strategic constituent engagement has resulted in the single largest gift in the history of the College at $7.8 million, an 18% increase in gifts to the Fund for Barton, and $10.25 million raised in 2019-2020.

Finally, by expanding and enhancing co-curriculum and intercollegiate athletics, the College has added programs congruent with the mission, vision, and culture of the College. Dr. Searcy has encouraged the establishment of nine co-curricular cohort options for students: the Presidential Leadership Fellows, Barton Esports, Healthcare+, Nursing Scholars, Phi Beta Lambda, ArtWorks, AVID for Higher Education, Bulldog Pep Band, and Air Force ROTC, which provide additional vibrancy to the students’ Barton Experience. And, five new NCAA DII athletic programs were added: men’s and women’s swimming, and men’s and women’s lacrosse, and football. Barton’s nine co-curricular cohort programs and the College’s 24 sports teams represent an intentional effort to supports campus vibrancy, as well as institutional growth and vitality.

Campus momentum has grown along with local and regional awareness. Barton has become readily known as an innovation difference-maker and is recognized as a source of energy and intellectual capital, contributing to the workforce and economic development of the local and regional economy. And, throughout this progress, the Barton Spirit has flourished with greater vibrancy and recognition of the impact that Barton College makes in the lives of its students.

Fall 2021, Announcement of the new Barton Bold and Connected Strategic Plan

In fall 2021, Dr. Searcy announced the Barton Bold and Connected Plan that will define the next four years’ strategic initiatives to meet the expanding needs of a post-pandemic workforce and society. By focusing on three foundational pillars, distinctive identity, pivotal partnerships, and radical innovation, Barton Bold and Connected provides a springboard for an aggressive strategy to further position the College as an economic and regional driver in delivering quality, accessible, affordable and distinctive academic programs.

Dr. Searcy empowers the Barton College community to think creatively and to act purposefully — to advance the College, inspired by a shared vision that is intently focused on student learning and success.

Professional Background

Prior to Dr. Searcy’s appointment as President of Barton College, he served the University of Mary Washington as Vice President of Student Affairs. He led broad, transformative institutional initiatives and planned, implemented, and evaluated university-wide, outcomes-centered programs and services. He spearheaded curricular and co-curricular offerings, including the creation of an innovative, faculty-led Center for Honor, Leadership, and Service and the development of living-learning communities and faculty-in-residence initiatives.

Earlier in his professional career, Dr. Searcy served as Dean of Student Affairs at Wingate University and also held administrative staff roles at Elon University, Gardner-Webb University, and Appalachian State University. He served on master planning and strategic planning committees of multiple institutions, coordinated assessment of university fiscal and facility resources (including more than $100 million in construction initiatives), engaged campus and community leaders in visioning and planning processes, helped design and implement accreditation processes including Quality Enhancement Plans for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and championed co-curricular programs and services.

Dr. Searcy’s academic credentials include a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Leadership in Higher Education from the University of Nebraska with a dissertation emphasis on presidential leadership during strategic transitions. He earned his Master of Education degree from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/Public Relations and English from Mars Hill University, where he was named a Marshbanks-Anderson Scholar and graduated cum laude.

List of Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the Executive Committee for the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU)
  • Chair of the President’s Council, Conference Carolinas and Member of the Conference Carolinas Executive Committee for the Board of Directors
  • Past Chair and Member, Wilson Forward Board of Directors
  • Member, United Way of Wilson Board
  • Member, Rotary Club of Wilson


Dr. Searcy and his wife, Beth, have two adult children: a daughter, Caroline Faith, who is a student at Wake Forest University, and a son, Carter Gray, who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and works for Lenovo.


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