Wilson College today announced the appointment of Dr. Wesley R. Fugate as the 20th president in the 150-year history of the college.
Fugate, who will officially assume the Wilson presidency in January 2020, currently serves as vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va. He will succeed Barbara K. Mistick, who left the post in August 2019 to become president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in Washington, D.C.
A. Richard Kneedler has served as interim president while the Wilson College Board of Trustees, with the assistance of Academic Search Inc., conducted a national search for Mistick’s successor.
In making the announcement today to Wilson faculty, staff, alumni and students, Dr. Barbara L. Tenney, Wilson Class of 1967 and chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, said, “Dr. Fugate’s multi-disciplined experience in higher education, as well as his passion for small, private liberal arts institutions, makes him the perfect candidate for Wilson’s presidency. He has an infectious energy and commitment to the student experience that will serve our college well. I look forward to working with Dr. Fugate as Wilson College continues to evolve to meet the needs of our future students.”
Over the course of his career, Fugate has worked extensively in enrollment management and student affairs; supported the work of college boards of trustees; and led successful communications and marketing efforts–specifically at Randolph College and the University of Georgia. He has also held several key leadership roles focusing on strategy and policy while working for the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Office of the Governor.
As president of Wilson College, Fugate will be responsible for unifying the campus with a focus on enhancing the student experience and success in later life, managing enrollment, providing financial stewardship, fundraising, cultivating the alumni base, and building and enhancing relationships and partnerships in the local community.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead Wilson College into its next 150 years,” Fugate said. “While Wilson’s commitment to opportunity, honor and providing a high-quality liberal arts education are what drew me to consider this position, ultimately getting to know the people of Wilson helped me to fall in love with the institution. Wilson has a remarkable history and I am excited about collaborating with students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and friends of the college to chart a path for its future success.”
Fugate earned a doctor of philosophy in higher education from the Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia, in 2012; a master’s degree in higher education administration with an emphasis in institutional advancement in 2005 from the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University; and a bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts and economics in 2002 from Centre College in Danville, Ky.
In addition, Fugate has served as guest lecturer at Lynchburg College, Randolph College and the University of Georgia, as well as presented at numerous higher education professional conferences and consulted on higher education structure and policy. His many awards and accolades are testimony to his distinguished service within the higher education industry, as well as in community engagement initiatives.
The Wilson College Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Oct. 19 to appoint Fugate president of the college. Fugate was selected from a pool of more than 100 highly qualified candidates after an extensive national search.
Tenney commended Kneedler’s leadership during this time of transition. “Dr. Kneedler has done a great job leading the College in the interim, continuing the tremendous momentum begun by Dr. Barbara Mistick,” said Tenney. “It was critically important to the trustees that we not lose any ground on our current, successful strategic initiatives during the search process.”
Tenney also extended thanks to the presidential search committee, chaired by Trustee Robin J. Bernstein. Both Tenney and Kneedler will work together to ensure a smooth transition to Fugate.
“Under Robin’s leadership and with the guidance of Academic Search, a diverse mix of trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni worked diligently to screen and interview candidates, then ultimately recommend Dr. Fugate to the Board of Trustees, “ said Tenney. “On behalf of the full board, I want to personally thank these individuals for taking this responsibility seriously and dedicating their time, guaranteeing the right candidate was selected as the next leader of Wilson College.”
Mistick announced her resignation in April. The search process began soon after with the Board of Trustees appointing an ad hoc subcommittee to oversee the selection of a national search firm. Once Academic Search was hired, a search committee was established.
Fugate will relocate from Lynchburg to Chambersburg with his husband, Cody Ward, in early January.
Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in Chambersburg, Pa., that offers bachelor’s degrees in 35 majors and graduate degrees in education, healthcare, nursing, business and the arts and humanities. Wilson is committed to providing an affordable education that offers value to its students beyond graduation. Wilson has a fall 2019 enrollment of 1,620 students in all programs. Visit wilson.edu for more information.
Fugate is available for 10-minute interviews today (Oct. 28, 2019) from 11-11:45 a.m. and 3-3:45 p.m. To schedule an interview, contact Cathy Mentzer, 717-262-2604.
Detailed background and biographical information about Fugate can be found at Wilson.edu/new-president.
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