Barton D. Darrell ’84, J.D. will step down from his role as President of Kentucky Wesleyan College effective June 1, 2019.
Darrell began his role as the college’s 34th president in September 2014 after serving as vice president of external services. Since then, Kentucky Wesleyan has experienced a reversal of enrollment trends with growth in both freshmen class sizes and in retention. During his tenure, Darrell introduced “The Wesleyan Way,” which became part of the College’s overall brand and culture. The College also had a complete overhaul of its campus ministry program, led the state in average CPA exam scores and saw an increase in the academic profile of the student body.
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“Bart has a unique style of leadership that just binds people together,” said alumnus and board of trustee member, Jack Wells ’77. “It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a façade, it’s who Bart is. He had a clear direction of where we wanted to take Wesleyan and in those five years, he accomplished all of what he set out to do. We could not have been more honored to have Bart on our campus for the last five years.”
President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, Candance Brake, said Bart has created a sense of possibility that is palpable in the Owensboro community.
“Bart’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit has created so many legacies across campus,” said Brake. “His ability to connect with the students is so evident and that ability ties students to our community. We are seeing that connection pay off every day as Wesleyan grads from across the country decide that they want to make Owensboro their permanent home.”
Kentucky Wesleyan College Board Chairman, Judge Phillip Shepherd, said Wesleyan will continue to build upon the strong foundation Darrell has laid for the College.
“With Bart Darrell, Wesleyan has been blessed to capture lightning in a bottle for the last six years,” Judge Shepherd said. “Bart has led the transformation of our campus from a sleepy school stuck in the status quo, to a vibrant, growing community. Bart is ready to embark on new changes in his life and career and we wish him nothing but success. Our sadness at his departure is tempered by the knowledge that his love and commitment to the Wesleyan community remains strong, and that he will be a vital part of our continued commitment to excellence.”
The board of trustees has appointed Dr. Gene Tice to serve as the interim president while the board completes a national search for a new president. Dr. Tice holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and business administration from Muskingum College. He also holds a Master of Arts in college student personnel and a Ph.D. in counseling and guidance both from the University of Alabama. In recent years, Dr. Tice served as vice president for student affairs and campus services for Western Kentucky University from 2000-2008 and retired as regional chancellor of WKU-Owensboro after ten years of service in 2018.
“Dr. Tice has a distinguished career of higher education leadership for over 40 years,” Board Chairman Judge Shepherd said. “He is well known and highly respected in the Owensboro community after his successful leadership of the Western Kentucky University Owensboro campus. Dr. Tice will not be a candidate for the presidency. The board is grateful for his willingness to provide experienced and steady leadership while we complete the search process. Dr. Tice embodies the values of integrity, service to others and community engagement that have helped make Wesleyan a regional leader in higher education. We are delighted to welcome him to The Wesleyan Way.”
Darrell endorsed the decision of the board to appoint Dr. Tice.
“I have always admired his work in higher education and am happy that he will serve as interim president,” said Darrell.
The board will begin its national search for a new president this summer.
Darrell envisions his successor possessing a background in academic programming as Darrell believes this is the next area of growth for the College.
“I believe I was the right person at the right time to serve as my college’s president,” Darrell said. “I’m so pleased with the successes the College has had over the last five years. Now I believe, with what we have accomplished, it is time for me to step aside and allow someone with additional skill sets to take us to the next level.
Darrell said the students are the reason he came to serve the College in 2013.
“I am better because of our students,” Darrell said. “They have inspired me with who they are, what they accomplish and where they are going. It is with a lot of sadness, but with a lot of optimism that I bid Wesleyan farewell, and as excited as I am about what we have accomplished together, I am even more excited about where we are going.”
For more information, please contact Board Chairman Judge Phillip Shepherd at 502-352-0321.