WILSON, N.C. — Dr. Norval C. Kneten, president of Barton College, announced in a Noon webcast to the campus and extended college communities that he will retire in June 2015. His decision, some months in the making, was made with his usual deliberate and strategic consideration for the future of Barton College.
In the webcast, Dr. Kneten addressed the timing of his decision, as he shared, “I have learned that there is no end to the work of a president, no natural place where one can declare victory and close the book. This moment in the history of the College is a moment in which there are a multitude of projects being guided by strong and trusted leaders. Our trustees, academic and campus leaders, and community supporters have a firm grasp of what is required to achieve our strategic purpose. I am confident that we are on a trajectory such that these leaders and supporters will bring all our various projects to successful conclusion.”
While Dr. Kneten expresses his confidence in those whom he will leave to complete some projects on his list, he is very clear in adding that the next year may be his most exciting and most challenging year yet. He has a focused agenda and plenty of energy to keep this busy campus engaged as he continues to move Barton College forward.
By June 2015, Dr. and Mrs. Kneten will have served Barton College for 12 years. “A primary goal Susan and I set when we came to Barton, was to develop a nationally recognized experience for our students, incorporating strong academics with career-ready skills and experiences,” Dr. Kneten expressed in the webcast. He said the faculty and staff adopted this goal as their own and “their work in this area has progressed rapidly with the result that Barton’s name has an increasingly visible national presence.”
Among notable distinctions during Dr. Kneten’s administration are the strong College relationships developed and strengthened with the community, the alumni, and the Church. Many of those relationships were cultivated at the Barton-Graves House, the official residence of the college president and his family. Dr. and Mrs. Kneten have hosted approximately 100 events each year during his tenure, totaling 1,100 events and counting.
And, with the support of an engaged and active Board of Trustees and senior leadership team, Dr. Kneten has led the College through a decade of campus facility and infrastructure improvements, including renovations of existing buildings and the construction of new buildings.
Even in the midst of one of the nation’s worst economic downturns, recognized by many as the Great Recession, Dr. Kneten led the College through fiscal stress, avoiding cuts in salary or loss of benefits for employees, and with no elimination of programs or positions on campus. In fact, Barton College is currently experiencing decreased debt and a growing endowment. During the past decade, the College has developed innovative and accomplished fundraising initiatives, increasingly sophisticated student recruitment efforts, a steadily improving and revitalized neighborhood presence, and the increasing recognition of the College in regional and national reputation measures.
“All of this has been accomplished in partnership with an engaged and effective Board of Trustees, a talented and dedicated Senior Team, a faculty with unparalleled collaborative skills, a staff working unselfishly hand-in-hand with the faculty, a Wilson community sharing and supporting the vision and goals of the College, donors unstinting in their philanthropic and thoughtful gifts, alumni increasingly involved and contributing to the Barton Experience, and a church community sustaining our fundamental values of service and faithfulness. All of us together have focused on delivering a nationally recognized education for our students and, together, we have found success in making this happen.”
Gregg DeMar, chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees, followed Dr. Kneten’s webcast with a brief address to the campus community. DeMar began by thanking Dr. Kneten for his leadership, his service to Barton, and for the many accomplishments that have been achieved during his time as president of the college. He also was quick to note the Board’s appreciation of Susan Kneten’s many years of work and outstanding support of the college.
“We are happy for the Knetens, for their opportunity to look forward to more time with family in Texas, and we look forward to their still being with us, and for President Kneten’s leadership for one more academic year through June 2015,” shared DeMar.
“During Dr. Kneten’s 11 years to date, much has been accomplished in terms of the student learning outcomes, academic programs development, faculty and staff development, sustaining the college on firm financial footing, significant fundraising growth, and capital improvements of the campus physical facilities, he continued. “The College is in a very healthy position, given the care with which Dr. Kneten and the Senior Team have taken, in partnership with the Board of Trustees, to ensure the College’s strong position economically. While there are many examples that could be mentioned, please allow me to note in general reference the numerous academic, athletic, marketing, and fund-raising initiatives, during this administration, that have helped to better position Barton College for national recognition and that continue in this year and will continue going forward.”
DeMar further emphasized that the College’s Board of Trustees is solidly focused on its support of Dr. Kneten and the Senior Team to continue the good work currently underway and that the Board will continue its work of strategic long-range visioning and action-taking for the College’s future.
“The Board will also now focus its attention on establishing the national presidential search and schedule that will be finalized at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 26,” he explained. “It will indeed be a national search to find the next man or woman to lead Barton as its President. We will engage a to-be-selected nationally recognized search firm and consultancy to further enable this process. We will appoint a Search Committee that will include representation from the key constituencies of the College, that being the Trustees, the Student Body, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Wilson community. The campus community will be engaged in discussion during the Search process.”
DeMar explained that the Board’s time line will begin with selection of the Search Committee for approval at the April 26th Board Meeting, followed by the selection of the search firm before summer and then the identification of presidential candidates during the summer. During fall semester, the Search Committee, with the assistance of the search firm, will conduct a thorough evaluation of candidates through a series of selections leading up to a final set of candidates for final evaluation. The Board anticipates the selection of the new president by early spring 2015. “This will then allow for an orderly transition before President Kneten completes his Presidency in June 2015,” he added.
DeMar concluded his remarks with an energizing rally to the campus community, saying, “Let’s all now get back to the day to day of the college, the teaching and learning, the work and operations of the college, the focus on our students. Tomorrow, I look forward to participating in the Stop Hunger Now event with students, faculty, and staff. We have a busy 14 months ahead of us. Let’s get started!”