Lunsford named president at Mars Hill
May 9 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Lunsford named president at Mars Hill | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

Lunsford named president at Mars Hill

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

After a tumultuous three-week period in which a leading candidate for president was roundly rejected by faculty, students and college supporters, Mars Hill College trustees voted May 9 to name interim president Dan Lunsford as the school's new president. Lunsford was tapped as interim president in January 2002, after former president Max Lennon resigned under pressure.

"We are proud of the accomplishments Dr. Lunsford has made during the past year and a half, and we look forward to his continued commitment of leading Mars Hill College," said Fred Pittillo, chairman of the Mars Hill College board of trustees.

Pittillo and some other members of the trustee's executive committee had earlier promoted the candidacy of Rick Brewer, vice president for planning and student affairs at Charleston Southern University, for the position.

Brewer was brought to campus on April 22-23 for meetings with students, faculty, staff and college supporters. Afterward, the faculty, students and alumni expressed overwhelming opposition to Brewer's candidacy, believing that he would bring an agenda to transform the school into a much more theological conservative institution.

When Pittillo announced that the trustees' executive committee would meet at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute on May 1, some members of the presidential search committee complained that an agreed-upon process had been violated. The search committee had not been given an opportunity to consider feedback from Brewer's visit before making a formal recommendation to the trustees, said George Peery, chair of the faculty and a member of the search committee.

Meanwhile, Brewer insisted that he had no pre-packaged plan for Mars Hill, and declined to withdraw his name from consideration despite the growing opposition.

Some trustees reported that they received a packet of information promoting Brewer's candidacy on April 30, more than a week after the campus visits and just prior to the May 1 meeting.

Sources close to the trustees told the Recorder that 20 of the 36 trustees agreed in a conference phone call April 30 that they would oppose Brewer's candidacy. During what was reported to be a four-hour meeting on May 1, which trustees not on the executive committee were invited to attend as observers, a decision was reached that Brewer's name would not be presented when the trustees met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday morning, May 9.

School officials did not disclose details of the May 9 meeting, but released a statement that afternoon saying trustees had named Lunsford president.

Prior to taking over as interim president, Lunsford had served from 1998-2002 as dean of the School of Education and Leadership at Mars Hill.

The son of Fred and Gladys Lunsford, he is a native of Marble, N.C. Fred Lunsford was a longtime director of missions of the Truett Baptist Association for Cherokee and Clay counties of North Carolina. Dan Lunsford grew up in the Little Brasstown Baptist Church, and is a current member of Mars Hill Baptist Church. His early experience includes work at Truett Baptist Camp.

From 1990-1998, Lunsford served as superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools. During his tenure there, he was responsible for the administrative management of the second largest school system in Western North Carolina with a membership of more than 11,300 students, more than 1,500 employees and a budget of more than $57 million. From 1983-1990, Lunsford served as superintendent of Orange County Schools. He also worked as associate superintendent for instruction, assistant superintendent for instruction, director of instruction and elementary principal - all within the Orange County School District. He began his career in 1969 as a sixth-grade teacher at Holloway Street School in Durham.

Lunsford is an alumnus of Mars Hill College, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor of arts in elementary education. He earned masters of education and doctor of education degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has participated in postdoctoral study at Vanderbilt University in 1984 and the Superintendents' Executive Program at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Government in 1989.

Lunsford maintains strong involvement in community and professional organizations. He and his wife, Beverly, live in the Mars Hill community.

(Mars Hill Director of Communications Marla Milling contributed to this story.)

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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