ANDERSON, S.C.--Evans Whitaker has been elected as the 12th president of Anderson (S.C.) College. Whitaker, 42, has been vice president for university advancement at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., since 1996.
Whitaker received a unanimous vote from the college's board of trustees at their fall meeting Oct. 18. He is expected to begin duties at Anderson in early December.
At Anderson, Whitaker succeeds Lee Royce, who resigned to accept the presidency of another Baptist institution, Mississippi College.
James Stovall, a retired environmental executive from Greenville, board chairman and vice chairman of the search committee, called Whitaker "the right man to lead Anderson College," pointing out that he "meets and exceeds every criteria we set for the job."
Trustee Robert Winburn, pastor of Spring Valley Church in Columbia, S.C., and chairman of the search committee, said Whitaker is a "great fit" for Anderson College, adding that he "possesses the vision and experience to lead the college in fulfilling its mission of being a premier place of learning while upholding the teachings of Jesus Christ."
Whitaker said he is "impressed with the mission of the college and its emphasis on the integration of learning and faith."
"I look forward to working with Baptists in South Carolina," he said, adding that South Carolina Baptists have three very fine institutions in which they can take pride. "I am excited about the prospect of working together with Jairy Hunter at Charleston Southern and Jimmy Epting at North Greenville to achieve the convention's vision for Christian higher education," he said.
He also is looking forward to working with Carlisle Driggers, executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He was impressed that Driggers and his wife were on campus while Anderson trustees met to consider Whitaker for the presidency.
"His presence made it very obvious that Anderson College is a top priority for South Carolina Baptists, and that is encouraging. I look forward to partnering with him and the convention in the years ahead."
Whitaker also had praise for his predecessor at Anderson, crediting Royce's seven-year tenure for "improving the college's financial position, raising the quality of academics, raising admissions selectivity, and placing priority on Christian missions and ministry."
At Belmont, Whitaker's leadership led to a doubling of alumni giving and endowment -- with endowment rising from $25 million to $50 million.
Before going to Belmont with its 3,300-plus students, Whitaker led development programs at Wingate University, Gardner-Webb University and the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. He has helped raise more than $153 million in private support during his years in Christian education.Whitaker, a native of Shelby, N.C., graduated from Gardner-Webb University and Vanderbilt's Peabody College for Teachers. He also earned his Ph.D. degree from Vanderbilt.
It was also while he was a student at Gardner-Webb that he felt God's call to ministry in Christian higher education administration. Whitaker's own experience as an undergraduate impacted his life and gave him the desire to help provide that same education to others. "I had a positive experience as a student at a Baptist college. It changed my life in many positive ways," Whitaker affirmed.
A frequent speaker at churches, he and his wife, Diane, are members of Brentwood Baptist Church near Nashville.
By Don Kirkland