Release Date: 3/21/2001
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. --- University of the Ozarks Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Caroline Whitson of Clarksville has been named the 17th president of Columbia College in Columbia, S.C., effective July 1.
Columbia College's Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved Whitson to lead the private, liberal arts college for women. The United Methodist Church affiliated college of approximately 1,500 students also offers a coed evening college and graduate school.
"It is a terrific honor to be chosen as president of a college with such outstanding students, faculty and staff," said Whitson. "At the same time, it is tough to leave Ozarks, an outstanding college in its own right, and the many, many friends I have there."
Since 1979 Whitson has held numerous positions at U of O, including director of public information, professor of English and communications, chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and vice president for institutional advancement. She has been vice president of academic affairs since 1995 and provost since 1998.
"Caroline deserves to be listed among the great names in Ozarks' history," said U of O President Dr. Rick Niece. "Very few at Ozarks have touched the lives of so many students in such meaningful ways. Mentor, counselor, surrogate parent and friend are all titles that she has held for our students, and every student who came into contact with her is better for it."
Whitson, who earned B.A, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English from the University of Arkansas, was one of three finalists from a pool of more than 100 applicants.
Columbia College Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Sellers told The State newspaper in Columbia that Whitson "won the job in one resounding vote. She was really the full package," Sellers added. "Some folks have an extra capacity to create a sense of positive energy, joy and warmth when they're in a room. She has that."
During the interview process in early March, Whitson toured the Columbia College campus and met with numerous students and faculty. Carlee McCartha, a student and a member of the search committee, said Whitson "was warm beyond words. It's exciting (that Whitson was chosen). I kind of hate that I'm a senior."
Niece said a national search, as required by university policy, will be conducted to find Whitson's replacement.
"I do not know if our next vice president for academic affairs will come from far away or from right here among people we already know," Niece said. "Whoever it is will be validated by a thorough search process to ensure that they have the right skills, experience, and 'fit' to help lead us in pursuit of our mission of educational service."