Barton College Names New President

douglas-n-searcyWILSON, N.C. — Douglas N. Searcy, Ph.D., was announced as the 12th president of Barton College on Friday, January 9, 2015.

Dr. Searcy was elected by the Barton College Board of Trustees during a called executive session on Thursday, December 18, 2014.  A search committee composed of trustees and representatives of the faculty, staff, and students recommended Dr. Searcy to the Board of Trustees at the conclusion of an extensive national search.  Dr. Searcy is currently Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., where he is regarded as a decisive leader, skillful collaborator, and strategic visionary.

Gregg A. DeMar, chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees, formally introduced Dr. Searcy and his wife, Beth, to the faculty and staff during the College Assembly, a meeting that opens the spring 2015 semester. Immediately following the January 9 announcement on campus, the news was emailed to students, alumni, and Barton constituencies.

“Dr. Searcy and his wife, Beth, will bring to Barton College the strong, collegial, and visionary leadership that the College community and the city and county of Wilson so richly deserve,” said DeMar. “The trustees enthusiastically look forward to continued progress and uninterrupted, dynamic institutional leadership for Barton College for the foreseeable future. The trustees and I wish for Dr. Searcy a long and prosperous tenure as president of Barton College.”

“I am honored to be selected to serve as the 12th president of Barton College,” said Dr. Searcy. “I thank the Board of Trustees and the search committee for their confidence in me to build upon the outstanding leadership of Dr. Norval Kneten.  Because of its talented faculty, bright students, and supportive community partnerships, Barton College is well positioned as a strong local, regional, and national presence, and I look forward to working with the Barton community to provide both strategy and vision that leverage our resources in pursuit of an unparalleled community of leaders, scholars, and global citizens.  Beth and I are eager to move to Wilson and become an integral part of life on campus and in town. Already, our family feels warmly welcomed, and we see great opportunities to perpetuate the mission and vision of Barton College.”

In his current role at the University of Mary Washington, Dr. Searcy has led broad, transformative institutional initiatives and planned, implemented, and evaluated university-wide, outcomes-centered programs and services.  He has 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. He sees success in building strategic partnerships, eliciting political and financial support, honoring collective intellectual capital, and developing relationships within a community of faith and authenticity.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Mary Washington, he served as dean of student affairs at Wingate University. Dr. Searcy also served in earlier administrative staff roles at Elon University, Gardner-Webb University, and Appalachian State University. He has served on master planning and strategic planning committees of multiple institutions, coordinated assessment of university fiscal and facility resources (including over $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 (SACS), and championed co-curricular programs and services.

Dr. Searcy holds leadership positions in national professional associations and is active with local civic and volunteer organizations including service on the Fredericksburg Area Young Life Committee and the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board.  He has also served on the Editorial Board for the “Journal of Character,” the Baylor University Student Life Program Assessment Team, and NASPA Region III Executive Board.  He is published in the “Monograph Series of the National Resource Center for The Freshman Year Experience and the Journal of Economic and Environmental Studies.”

His 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. Dr. Searcy earned his Master of Education degree from the University of South Carolina and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/Public Relations and English from Mars Hill University, where he was a Marshbanks-Anderson Scholar and graduated cum laude.

searcy-coupleHe and his wife, Beth, have been married for 18 years. She currently serves as Director of Special Events and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Mary Washington and has national leadership credentials, enrollment and student development expertise, and extensive civic engagements. The Searcys have a son, Carter Gray, who will be a junior at Fike High School next fall, and a daughter, Caroline Faith, who will be an eighth grader at Toisnot Middle School. A native of Hendersonville, N.C. Dr. Searcy is the son of Faith Searcy and the late Emerson Searcy of Hendersonville, N.C.

Dr. Searcy’s appointment is effective July 1, 2015.  He will succeed Dr. Norval C. Kneten, who has served as president since 2003. Dr. Kneten will retire in June to his native Texas.


Questions? Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations at Barton College, at 252-399-6529 or