Jeff Abernathy, the 13th president of Alma College, is strongly committed to the values of a liberal arts education.
Dr. Abernathy served as vice president and dean of Augustana College from 2004 until his appointment at Alma. He joined Augustana after serving West Virginia Wesleyan College as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, prior to which he was a faculty member in English at Illinois College, where he also served as associate dean.
While at Augustana, Dr. Abernathy was instrumental in the development of the Midwest Alliance for Learning in the Liberal Arts, a consortium of six liberal arts colleges including Alma and Augustana that studies student learning and growth. The consortium is funded by a major grant from the Teagle Foundation
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Abernathy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Longwood College. He earned a master’s degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in American literature from the University of Florida.
He is the author of a book, To Hell and Back: Race and Betrayal in the Southern Novel, published by University of Georgia Press in December 2003. The book considers the construction of race in the southern novel and American culture, using Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as archetypal text.
He is married to Rebecca Wee, a poet whose first book, Uncertain Grace, won the 2000 Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets. In 2002, she was selected as a Witter Bynner Fellow, and she served as poet laureate of the Quad Cities from 2003 to 2005.
Jeff and Rebecca are the parents of a 7-year-old son, Rohan, and a 2-year-old daughter, Maren.