Newberry College in South Carolina announced the name of its next president on Friday, just weeks before the contract of its departing president was set to expire.
The school, one of 27 affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has been operating under the guidance of acting president Dr. John H. Hudgens II for the past four months, following a request by departing president Dr. Mitchell Zais for leave of absence amid his run for the seat of State Superintendent of Education.
With Dr. V. Scott Koerwer now tapped by the Board of Trustees to take the helm of Newberry starting July, the college is looking forward to starting "a new era" – one in which Newberry will "emerge as a liberal arts college of national prominence and distinction," as the incoming president says the school is poised to be.
"We have a solid foundation to build upon. We have the strength of our people – the students, alumni, faculty and professional staff of Newberry College – and our values-based Lutheran tradition to create the future of liberal arts education," Koerwer said in accepting the board's selection.
Board Chairman Billy Walker, meanwhile, hailed the "uniqueness of leadership" that Koerwer will bring to Newberry.
"He will be a young dynamic and enterprising leader," Walker stated in Newberry's announcement Friday. "The excitement he brings to campus is going to transform Newberry and add to the 154-year legacy of the College."
During the course of his 20-year career in business and higher education, Koerwer has established a notable track record of collaboration and accomplishment at each institution he has served.
Koerwer co-launched three companies, including a software company focused on knowledge management and back office operations for higher education clients and a boutique consulting and training firm.
He also forged an alliance with the University of Tikrit in Iraq, laying groundwork for building a new education system for the nation as it works to establish a new education and social infrastructure.
"He has accomplished great things at colleges and universities of eminence," commented Walker.
When Koerwer officially steps in on July 1, he will be Newberry's 21st president, succeeding Zais, who requested for a leave of absence in February because he didn't want to compromise any duties at the college while seeking the state Superintendent of Education seat.
Zais had announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for the statewide post last November, after having served nearly ten years as Newberry's president.
The departing president, in making his first bid for public office, said he wants to make sure every child in the state can go to an excellent school and be taught by an excellent teacher.
"As president of Newberry College, a faith-based organization, I serviced my students campus and my faith," said Zais.
"Both are callings, both are lives of service, and superintendent of education seemed to be the natural progression of a life of service that combined the requirements of my skills of education and world of leading large complex organizations," he added.
Last week, Zais advanced to a June 22 runoff for the Republican nomination. He will face off against homeschooling mother Elizabeth Moffly.