Dr. Jeff Abernathy Named Alma's 13th President
Alma College Board of Trustees Chair Candace Dugan announced Feb. 5 the appointment of Dr. Jeff Abernathy, vice president and dean at Augustana College, as the 13th president of Alma College, effective July 1, 2010.
Abernathy has served as the chief academic officer at Augustana, a private liberal arts college in Rock Island, Illinois, since 2004. His appointment to succeed Saundra Tracy, who is retiring in June, follows a national search by a 16-member search committee that included trustees, faculty, students, administrators and alumni.
Dr. Jeff Abernathy
“The Board congratulates and thanks the campus community, under Dr. Tracy’s leadership, for the work and dedication that has built an institution with the strengths necessary to attract excellent presidential candidates,” said Dugan. “The Board also thanks the search committee for not merely long hours but wonderful thoughtfulness and leadership.
“We are extremely pleased with the appointment of Dr. Jeff Abernathy, who will work enthusiastically and energetically with the entire College community to build on our strengths as well as identify and embrace new possibilities as the College greets its 124th year,” she said.
At Augustana, Abernathy oversees an academic program that offers 43 majors serving a student enrollment of 2,455. Abernathy was instrumental in developing Augustana’s relationship with the Teagle Foundation, which has funded the Midwest Alliance for Learning in the Liberal Arts, a consortium of six liberal arts colleges including Alma and Augustana to study student learning and growth.
Prior to Augustana, Abernathy was vice president for academic affairs at West Virginia Wesleyan College and an English faculty member at Illinois College, where he also served as associate dean.
“Alma’s invitation is humbling and thrilling at once,” said Abernathy. “I have known the dedication of Alma’s faculty, staff and administration during all of my years in higher education, and I can’t imagine a better match for my values. Given the College’s many strengths, Alma is particularly well positioned to offer innovative answers to the questions before all colleges and universities today.
“Rebecca and I are so excited to be coming to Alma. We love the campus and the community, and we look forward to introducing our children to Alma,” he said.
Alma College Trustee David Provost, a 1976 alumnus of the College, chaired the search committee, which began its work last fall following Tracy’s retirement announcement.
“We conducted a national search that produced a strong pool of candidates with the necessary skills and attributes for Alma College,” said Provost. “The committee did a tremendous job. The process was a positive one in which committee members shared a common vision for identifying candidates with the ability to lead the College with boldness, confidence, skill and personal integrity.
“Dr. Abernathy has demonstrated a commitment to the core institutional values of excellence in the liberal arts,” said Provost. “His extensive experience and accomplishments as a chief academic officer and his ability to establish and enhance relationships, build community, manage resources, and inspire the pursuit of excellence are well suited to leading Alma College in the 21st century.”
A native of Richmond, Virginia, 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 married to Rebecca Wee, a poet whose first book, Uncertain Grace, won the 2000 Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets. They are the parents of a six-year-old son, Rohan, and 18-month-old daughter, Maren.
Alma College, founded in 1886, is an independent liberal arts institution with an enrollment of more than 1,400 students located in the center of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s mission is to “prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations.”
Posted: Fri, February 5th, 2010 at 9:05AM