By Steve Vied Messenger Inquirer
Bart Darrell’s tenure as president of Kentucky Wesleyan College has yet to reach two years, but members of the college’s Board of Trustees have seen enough to know that they like — really like — how he’s been running the school.
On Thursday, the Rev. Tom Grieb, chairman of the KWC board, announced that Darrell had accepted the board’s offer of a five-year contract extension through 2021.
Darrell, a graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan, has served as the 34th president of the Methodist-affiliated school since Sept. 16, 2014.
“Our intent is to show support for Bart’s good work and for the school,” Grieb said. “We know Bart is the right person for this season of our school.”
In a news release issued by Wesleyan, Grieb said the board could not be happier with the direction of the college under Darrell’s “visionary” leadership.
“His energy, enthusiasm and passion for Wesleyan, along with his ability to think strategically and work collaboratively with other great talent at the college, is taking us places Wesleyan has not seen before,” said Grieb, senior pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Lexington. “He has a unified team of outstanding faculty and staff working with him who deserve our accolades as well.”
With Darrell, 55, at the helm, Wesleyan has seen its fundraising and student recruiting increase, with more than $8 million in gifts to the college in less than two years, the school said.
Darrell succeeded Craig Turner as KWC president. He served as vice president of external services at the school with development, admissions, financial aid, alumni relations and public relations responsibilities since returning to the school almost a year earlier.
Tapscott Chapel on the KWC campus was nearly full for Thursday’s announcement of a contract extension for Darrell.
“Kentucky Wesleyan College has enjoyed tremendous momentum over these 23 months,” Grieb said. “We pause to celebrate. On behalf of the board, it is my honor to say we have signed, sealed and delivered a contract extension for Bart Darrell. We are so thankful for his leadership.”
Longtime faculty member W.L. Magnuson recalled seeing Darrell running around the Wesleyan campus as a young boy. “That same boy I saw running around the campus is still running around the campus, encouraging students, faculty and staff,” Magnuson said. “Bart, we believe in you and trust you.”
Grieb would not disclose the financial aspects of Darrell’s new contract.
Darrell said he was grateful for the support.
“I don’t really care about job descriptions,” Darrell said. “If you do what’s on the job description, it guarantees average. We will keep our eyes and hearts open and see what is to be done for young people and make this place even more amazing than it is. … We are going to do great things — not good. We have a mission and a purpose of higher education in this current world that is grounded in faith. We will produce people with values and integrity the world needs.”
Darrell, a Daviess County High alumnus, received his law degree from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1987 and joined the Bowling Green law firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers & Moore that year. He became partner in 1991. Darrell had been the attorney for school districts throughout Kentucky, including Daviess County Public Schools and Warren County Public Schools. He was named “Kentucky’s Outstanding Young Lawyer” by the Kentucky Bar Association and one of 40 “New Leaders for the 21st Century” for Kentucky by the Louisville Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader and the Shakertown Roundtable.
Darrell also served as a KWC trustee, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, president of the Alumni Association and as an adjunct professor of business law.
Darrell is the son of Bob Darrell, professor emeritus of English at KWC, where he taught from 1969 to 2000 and has the Darrell Plus Center named in his honor. Darrell’s mother, the late Nelda Peeples Darrell, was a lifelong educator, and the Nelda Peeples Darrell Stage in Hager Hall at the Ralph Center on campus is named in her memory.
Steve Vied, 270-691-7297, [email protected]