NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Board members of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities have elected Michael Arrington, provost of Carson-Newman College, as executive director of the association.
IABCU, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., is owned and operated by its 51-member Baptist-related higher education institutions.
Arrington, 62, succeeds Thomas Corts, who was named in September by President Bush to coordinate all education initiatives for USAID (United States Agency for International Development).
Arrington, who assumed the IABCU post March 1, will retire at the close of the academic year at Carson-Newman, located in Jefferson City, Tenn.
“The IABCU board of directors is delighted to have found someone as capable and as passionate about Christian higher education as Mike Arrington,” said Evans Whitaker, president of Anderson (S.C.) University and chairman of the IABCU board. “Dr. Arrington brings to his new role a wealth of teaching and administrative experience in Baptist institutions that will serve our association well as we cooperate together to share best practices and advance the distinctives of our institutions,” Whitaker added.
A Nashville, Ark., native who earned the B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arrington joined Carson-Newman as provost and vice president for academic affairs in 2001. Previously, he invested all but one year of his professional career at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., another IABCU member school. He began his work in education as a sixth-grade social studies teacher in Missouri.
Hired by Ouachita as a history professor in 1973, Arrington began what he thought would be a classroom career there. Just one year into his tenure, he was promoted to the academic affairs office as assistant to the dean and director of the academic skills development office. For the next 27 years, he served in several academic capacities, including associate vice president, prior to being named the university’s chief academic officer in 1986. In the course of his service he led Ouachita’s strategic planning committee, chaired the North Central Accreditation Steering Committee, served as dean of arts and sciences and oversaw a host of committees, councils and task forces.
“In my life I have had one intentional career plan and that was to teach,” Arrington said. “Everything after that has strictly been the providence of God. And, while I still think that teaching at an academically driven Christian institution is among the highest of callings, I am grateful that the Lord found it purposeful that I could invest my professional life in supporting the classroom experience. That is why I am humbled and invigorated by the opportunity to serve institutions that seek to sharpen students’ minds while shaping their hearts.”
Arrington said he joined Ouachita’s faculty with a certain skepticism, thinking that Christian higher learning might not measure up to public-funded education. His cynicism was quickly overridden by the commitment to excellence he saw in his colleagues for teaching and for student development.
“I learned that our work was to educate students while helping them see why we chose to be Baptists and why we intentionally integrate faith and learning,” he noted. “That’s something that I see as central to the association’s work. I intend to use this opportunity to promote Baptist higher education in general while finding new ways to keep our schools connected to each other.”
Joe Bill Sloan, president of Carson-Newman and associate provost under Arrington until he was named interim president last year, said his colleague is “an ideal fit for the IABCU.”
“Mike’s support, advice and wise counsel have been invaluable as we have moved through a period of transition,” Sloan said. “And, though the IABCU appointment is a great recognition of his abilities and skills as a Baptist educator, I think our member institutions will quickly find him to be a visionary leader and proactive servant.”
Arrington will continue to make his home in east Tennessee with his wife Pam, a Carson-Newman associate professor of education. They have a married daughter and one grandchild.
Mark Brown is director of news and media relations for Carson-Newman College and Tim Fields is director of communications for the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities.