Darrell Franklin Parker, dean and professor of economics in the Johnson College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., is the new dean of the College of Business at Western Carolina University.
Parker, whose appointment is effective July 1, will fill a vacancy created by the departure of Ronald A. Johnson, who stepped down from the position in 2010. Louis Buck Jr. has been serving as interim dean since 2010 and will retire this summer.
A native of Buncombe County, Parker received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville before going on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Purdue University.
“Among Darrell Parker’s strengths are his understanding of the importance of connections with the external community and his ability to make and solidify those connections,” Interim Provost Beth Tyson Lofquist said. “He also has a proven track record of excellence in teaching as well as outstanding internal communication skills and leadership, both within the college that he leads and across the entire campus.”
Parker said he is looking forward to returning to WNC and taking a leadership role in a university he has watched from afar.
“I have had a natural interest in Western Carolina and have known about its commitment to community engagement throughout the region for years,” he said.
News of Parker’s appointment came mid-May along with Lofquist’s announcement of the appointment of three interim deans, also effective July 1.
Dale Carpenter, professor of special education, will serve as interim dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions. Carpenter, a member of the WCU faculty since 1979, is filling a vacancy created by the departure of Perry Schoon, who will become dean of the College of Education at Illinois State University, his alma mater.
Mimi Fenton, professor of English, will serve as interim dean of the Graduate School and Research. A member of the WCU faculty since 1992, Fenton will guide WCU’s graduate programs and research activities upon the retirement of Scott Higgins, who is stepping down in June after 31 years, including the past seven as dean.
In the College of Arts and Sciences, Richard Starnes, associate professor and head of the Department of History, will assume the role of interim dean. Starnes will take over from Gibbs Knotts, professor of political science and public affairs, who will become head of the political science program at the College of Charleston.
Also serving in interim leadership roles at WCU are James Zhang, interim dean of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology, and Regis Gilman, interim dean of the Division of Educational Outreach.
The interim deans will provide leadership in their respective academics units during the period of transition from Lofquist, who will retire July 31, to WCU’s new provost, Angela Laird Brenton. Now dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Brenton will transition to her new post at WCU effective Aug. 1.
“The beginning of the process of hiring of permanent deans will be one of the top priorities for Angi Brenton when she arrives later this summer,” Lofquist said.
Just as positions around campus are settled, at least for the moment, comes news of the resignation of Linda Seestedt-Stanford, founding dean of WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. According to a June 8 campuswide email from Lofquist, Seestedt-Stanford will take a position at Mary Baldwin College, in Staunton, Va.
Seestedt-Stanford came to WCU in July 2007 from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions at Central Michigan University (CMU), where she served as assistant dean. Beginning in July 2010, she served a year as interim provost of WCU, succeeded in that position by Lofquist in July 2011.
“Dr. Stanford’s contributions and service to the College of Health and Human Sciences and the Office of the Provost are invaluable,” Lofquist said in her message. “She is the founding dean of the reorganized college and has led the design and development of the new HHS building with vision and passion. WCU will benefit from her many contributions for years to come.”
From staff reports