The next leader of Friends University is a teacher at heart who also brings 30 years of experience in higher education.
Friends University, the region’s leading Christian-based liberal arts institution, announced today that Dr. T.J. Arant will become its 13th president. He was unanimously selected by the Friends University Board of Trustees and will take office July 1, 2011.
Arant, 55, has served as executive vice president of Mount Olive College in North Carolina, since 2008. Mount Olive College is the fifth largest private college in North Carolina.
A six-month nationwide search, led by a 14-member Presidential Search Committee, identified four highly qualified finalists and Dr. Arant rose to the top.
“T.J. was a stand-out candidate with an outstanding career spanning from chief operating officer to chief academic officer to chief student affairs officer. In each position, he led mission-building efforts that resulted in progress and growth for various liberal arts colleges,” said Rod Pitts, board of trustees chair and Presidential Search Committee chairman. “His engaging nature and proven record combined with a passion for excellence in liberal arts makes him an ideal fit to take our university to the next level.”
Arant said he is excited about the opportunity to build on the excellent programs and strengths Friends University offers its students.
“Finding new ways to serve the Friends University mission and moving it to the next tier will be my focus. In many areas, the university is ready to achieve regional and national recognition. I can’t wait to begin working with the Friends’ community as a team to expand the university’s draw and reputation,” Arant said.
Arant hails from the east with a doctorate in English from Duke University, a master’s in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s from Vanderbilt University.
After earning his Ph.D. in 1991, Arant pursued his teaching interests. He quickly moved through the ranks to full professor, teaching at Duke University, Appalachian State University, Notre Dame College and Mount Olive College, and accumulated many teaching honors including Teacher of the Year.
“What excites me most about teaching and education is the power we have to change students’ lives.
In turn, students go out and change 10 lives, 100 lives, 1,000 lives. On a small college campus, you get the chance to grow relationships with those students. Making the personal connection is very important to me. It’s why we’re here.”
From 2000 on, Arant transitioned into executive positions where he led educational institutions with enrollments varying from 1,100 to 4,000 students.