The Erskine Board of Trustees welcomed new members; heard from the interim president; received key reports; acknowledged the work of administrators, faculty, and staff; and were addressed by Board Chair Mike Whitehurst as well as a local pastor and a member of the faculty at a meeting on the Due West campus August 27.
Karen Claxton of Albemarle, N.C., mother of two Erskine students, summarized her experience as a new trustee. “After my first board meeting, I realized how thankful I am that Erskine College has my two greatest treasures—my children, Rebecca and Jonathan,” she said. “The board and administration are working together to ensure that Erskine is truly focused on Christ while providing an excellent liberal arts education.”
Other new trustees include the Rev. Brian Howard, Jamestown, N.C.; Lance Ragsdale, French Camp, Miss.; Dr. Rob Nelson, Huntsville, Ala.; and the Rev. Mackay Smith, Lake Wales, Fla. Ex officio members this year are the Rev. Patrick Malphrus, Steeles Tavern, Va., who is serving as Moderator of the ARP Synod; and E. Phillip Cook, Clinton, S.C., who has begun his term as president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Dr. J. Thomas Hellams, who began his service as Erskine’s interim president July 1, spoke about his institutional vision for this time of transition. He said he believes Erskine should continue to be “unapologetically Christian, academically challenging, and financially stable.” Under his leadership, he hopes Erskine will promote the development of students in faith, intellect, and service.
The trustees received an update on the Alumni House, which is being refurbished to serve as a meeting space and welcome center for Erskine as well as the town of Due West. Erskine College Admissions reported an estimated 350 incoming students and cited a rise in test scores and GPAs for entering students. The Advancement Office announced an Annual Fund total of $1.65 million, exceeding this year’s goal.
Presidential Search Committee Chair Alan Broyles reported that the committee is considering applications from several well-qualified candidates. “We continue to seek God’s wisdom and guidance in these activities,” he said.
The trustees acknowledged the contributions of the interim president, administration, faculty, staff, and coaches to the successful launch of the academic year and praised the accreditation work being done with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) led by the administration and staff. Dr. Joan Little was recognized for her long-term commitment to Erskine College and congratulated on her recent retirement.
The seminary, which is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) as well as SACSCOC, was commended for its work in the accreditation process. Also recognized was recently appointed Dean of the Seminary Dr. Seth Nelson.
Whitehurst encouraged the trustees to “be bold” in their commitment to Erskine and to Christian higher education. “Everything we do begins with the institutional mission,” he said. He noted that trustees should be committed to strategic thinking, good governance, and leading by example.
The Rev. Scott Moore, pastor of Due West ARP Church, began the meeting with a devotional from Colossians. He challenged the trustees to consider that they are the stewards of “a deep and formative experience” for students and should strive to “make Christ the crowning jewel in the Erskine experience.”
Associate Professor of Bible and Religion Adrian Smith, who taught at the seminary for several years beginning in 2003, addressed board members during lunch, expressing his enthusiasm for the opportunity to return to Erskine this year as a teacher of undergraduate students.