August 27, 2020
Wayne B. Powell, president emeritus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, with an academic background in mathematics, has been tapped as the Interim President of Washington College. The Board of Visitors and Governors has said that they expect the interim appointment to span 18 to 24 months. He takes office Sept. 1.
The Board of Visitors and Governors is looking to Powell to replicate some of his successes at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he turned around the institution’s financial situation of annual deficits and high endowment spending. During his 14-year tenure as president, the school never ran a deficit and, after a few years, was producing annual surpluses of one-to-two million dollars.
Powell also took a creative approach to growing enrollment, interweaving the foundations of the liberal arts with professional experiences that prepared well-rounded students for the job market. During Powell’s tenure, the college merged with the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, established graduate centers in Asheville and Columbia, and added online and distance learning programs. In addition to over 50 majors offered on the Hickory campus, Lenoir-Rhyne now supports nearly 30 graduate programs in health sciences, human services, business administration, and theological studies. Under his leadership between 2002 and 2015, enrollment nearly doubled to 2,500 students, and endowment grew from $39 million in to $95 million.
Powell had served for two years as vice president and dean of academic affairs at the small, private, faith-based liberal arts college before stepping into the role of president in 2002. As dean, he reorganized the administrative structure, conducted a college-wide curriculum review, and launched and secured funding for a campus-wide diversity initiative that has since grown into the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity & Diversity Institute. That institute offers corporate training for professionals who want to advance equity in their communities.