Dr. Clarence Wyatt appointed president of Monmouth College

Posted by Centre News in Featured News, News 16 Jun 2014

UnknownMonmouth College in Illinois has announced the appointment of Dr. Clarence Wyatt as its 14th president, effective July 1. Wyatt currently serves as Pottinger Professor of History, chief planning officer and special assistant to the president at Centre College, where he is an alumnus and has been a part of the campus community for four decades.

“We are thrilled and excited for Clarence and have high hopes about this opportunity to lead a fine sister institution,” says Centre President John Roush.

“There really have not been many areas or people that Clarence hasn’t touched in a positive way at Centre,” Roush adds. “He has inspired a generation of students in a career filled with distinction and achievement. We will miss him, and we wish him the best in his new career as president of Monmouth College.”

Wyatt first arrived at Centre in 1974 from Hopkinsville, Ky. Not only was he a first-generation college student, he was a first-generation high school student. Wyatt credits his high school guidance counselor, whose daughter attended Centre, and E. Golladay LaMotte ’29, a prominent Hopkinsville businessman who served as chair of Centre’s board of trustees from 1977 to 1979, for influencing his decision to attend Centre.

Wyatt completed his Centre education in 1978, earning a degree in history. His wife, Lobie Stone, a Centre alumna, will join him at Monmouth.

“It takes an opportunity as exciting and filled with potential as Monmouth College for Lobie and me to leave Centre,” says Wyatt. “Centre has been my home and my extended family for 40 years—as a student, alumnus, staff member, faculty member and parent—and it has truly shaped my life.

“I’ve written a lot of material for the College over the years,” Wyatt adds, “but I simply don’t have the words to express adequately all that the people of Centre have meant, and will continue to mean, to me. And while I will no longer be a Centre employee, Lobie and I will remain active and involved alumni, and members of the Centre family forever.”

After graduating in 1978, Wyatt began work at Centre in the development office, eventually taking on a wide range of fundraising and strategic planning duties. He later started graduate studies in history at the University of Kentucky that led to earning a master’s degree in 1984 and his Ph.D. in 1990. That same year, Wyatt began teaching at Centre on a part-time basis, and within two years was a full-time member of the faculty. His focus on American politics and the Vietnam War led to his most recent of many distinctions, a Fulbright Fellowship in 2012 that brought him to Hanoi University as a visiting lecturer.

“As Centre’s chief academic officer, I know the important impact Clarence has had as a faculty member and mentor to hundreds of students during his long tenure as a history professor,” says Dr. Stephanie Fabritius, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “In addition, as his colleague on the president’s senior staff, I have always been impressed with Clarence’s ‘big-picture’ understanding of the running of a residential liberal arts college through his practical experience on a wide range of campus projects.”

Wyatt has been a part of the planning and execution of Centre’s two recent capital campaigns, for instance, and also served as co-chair of both the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates.

His colleague in these efforts, Dr. Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations, describes Wyatt as “an outstanding scholar and teacher, as well as an able administrator.”

Reflecting on Wyatt’s area of academic expertise, Trollinger adds, “It has been my observation that, because they are adept at linking past and present, historians tend to be good strategic thinkers. Centre College owes much of its success in recent decades to its well-established tradition of strategic planning. A historian of some distinction, Clarence has played a major role in strategic planning at Centre. He will bring that experience to the presidency of Monmouth College.”

This sentiment is echoed by Randal Kell ’69, a Centre trustee since 1994 who now serves as chair of Centre’s board of trustees.

“Clarence has not only been an extremely gifted professor whose life has been filled with countless acts of dedication to teaching, mentoring and learning,” Kell says, “but he has also filled critically important roles in the administration of the College during his entire tenure. Perhaps most notably, as the College’s chief planning officer, Clarence has for years thoughtfully and generously devoted himself to the significant task of stewarding Centre’s future direction, and his success in these efforts is well reflected in the College’s strong position today.”

Part of Wyatt’s success in the area of strategic planning has been his ability to foster at Centre a culture that takes an intentional approach to planning that is tied to the academic mission. Centre’s current strategic plan, for example, known as “The Centre Saga,” has a 25-year horizon that focuses on developing global citizens for meaningful lives of work and service. To assure the plan’s relevance, Wyatt recently led a campus-wide process to refresh and re-focus the plan that he titled “Lives Examined, Lives Empowered” to emphasize Centre’s holistic approach to education focused on developing the whole person.

At Monmouth, he will serve as president of a college that is similar to Centre and has enjoyed recent success in numerous areas, including a significant investment of $120 million in its facilities over the last 15 years. Founded in 1853, Monmouth is a residential liberal arts college of 1,300 with a Presbyterian heritage. It has added new majors and pre-professional programs in recent years, and its graduates enjoy high rates of employment and opportunities for advanced study.

In addition to his new duties as a college president, Wyatt expects to contribute to the greater Monmouth community much as he has done in Danville, where he has served in numerous volunteer leadership roles, including the founding of the city’s Main Street program, known as Heart of Danville. In addition to her role as Monmouth’s first lady, Stone is also eager to be involved in her new community. A successful businesswoman who currently runs Lobie Stone Design, her interest in the arts and historic preservation has included service on Danville’s Architectural Review Board.

by Michael Strysick, Director of Communications