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Arkansas educator selected as Belmont Univ.’s 4th president

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Trustees of Belmont University have tapped a new president: Robert C. Fisher, vice president for academic affairs at Arkansas State University since 1996.

Fisher, 51, who will assume office April 1 at the Baptist-related university in Nashville, Tenn., also serves as a personal consultant on organizational and leadership issues to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and the senior leadership team.

Fisher was unanimously selected by trustees Feb. 25 to succeed Belmont’s third president, William E. Troutt, who left the university after 17 years in June 1999 to assume the presidency of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

“Dr. Fisher’s career represents that rare combination of excellence in teaching, institutional leadership and business acumen, undergirded by a strong Christian faith,” Belmont trustee chairman Larry Thrailkill said. “As a lifelong Baptist, he understands the challenges and opportunities unique to Christian higher education.

“Under his leadership, Belmont will continue to claim its promise as a premier teaching university in a consistently caring, Christian environment,” Thrailkill said.

Prior to his service at Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Fisher served 10 years as dean of Henderson State University’s school of business in Arkadelphia, Ark.

Belmont’s presidential search committee, which completed its task in seven months, was chaired by Thrailkill and included six members of the board of trustees, three members of the board of regents, a student member, a faculty member and a staff member.

“Dr. Fisher is a very genuine man whose personal faith obviously governs his everyday life,” said Angela Korrect, a Belmont senior and the student representative to the presidential search committee. “This quality, combined with his strong interpersonal skills and familiarity with student and faculty issues, will make him a great president.”

The Arkansas native earned a bachelor of science in management and economics from Henderson State in 1970, an M.B.A. from the University of Memphis (Tenn.) in 1971 and a Ph.D. in management from the University of Arkansas in 1975. In 1992, he served in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a Fulbright Scholar, conducting research and consulting with the National Institute of Public Administration.

“Belmont is a place whose vision, mission, purpose and values I enthusiastically and fully embrace,” Fisher said. “While Belmont’s past accomplishments are truly remarkable, what makes it extraordinary is its confidence and high expectations for the future.”

Among highlights from Fisher’s tenure at Arkansas State:

— initiating the school’s first Ph.D. program (environmental sciences).

— establishing a Center for Learning Technologies to prepare faculty to integrate technology and teaching/learning.

— participating in planning and construction of new $18 million performing arts center, planning of new $15 million business/economic development building and the planning of a new $22 million student center/services center.

Fisher and his wife, Judy, have three grown children and three grandchildren. He has been a member of First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, since 1996 and previously of First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, and First Baptist Church, Conway, Ark.

Founded in 1951 and affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Belmont offers six undergraduate degrees in 56 major areas of study, encompassing more than 2,500 students, and eight master’s degrees, encompassing more than 500 students. In recent years, the university has improved the average ACT scores of entering freshmen from 16 to 25, doubled the size of its campus through land acquisition and established itself as a national leader in quality improvement.

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  • Ian Campbell