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Craig Turner to succeed Lanny Hall as Hardin-Simmons president in 2001


ABILENE, Texas (BP)–W. Craig Turner will assume the office of president of Hardin-Simmons University on June 1, 2001, when Lanny Hall has indicated he will step down from the office to assume the role of chancellor, according to a “Presidential Succession Plan” unanimously approved by trustees Aug. 19 in a special meeting in Abilene, Texas.
According to a statement issued by HSU trustee chair Tina Hunter, Turner, 52, will continue to serve as the 2,300-student, Baptist-affiliated university’s executive vice president and chief academic officer during the current academic year. Beginning on June 1, 2000, he will also assume the role of chief operating officer.
Hall, 49, has served as HSU president since 1991 and, as chancellor, will continue to work for the university in a fund-raising and teaching role, Hunter said. Hall will succeed Jesse C. Fletcher as chancellor, with Fletcher moving to the position of president emeritus in 2001, the trustee chair said.
Hunter, in her statement, said it is “a logical and prudent plan” for Turner to succeed Hall. Rather than follow the “traditional road to find a president” by forming a search committee, Hunter recounted, “… why should we? We have the best man (Craig Turner) for the position right here on the campus. You know him well.”
Turner stated Hall “desires to change roles, not to retire, but to change roles.” In the fall of 2001, Hall will teach six hours of political science and/or leadership, with the other half of his time spent raising funds for the university.
Hall said, “It is a high honor to lead this great institution, but I feel the time will be right for me to step down in 2001. I will have completed 31 years in government and education, 15 years in Baptist higher education and 12 and a half years as a university president.”
Hall continued, “In an effort to ensure a seamless and orderly transition, I strongly recommended that Dr. Turner succeed me. He will make an outstanding president — a position for which he is uniquely prepared. He is a scholar, a talented academic leader and a gifted administrator.”
Turner joined HSU in 1992 as vice president for academic affairs. Since 1996, he has served as executive vice president and chief academic officer. Currently he oversees the major university functions of enrollment services, information management, planning and academic affairs.
At the time he joined HSU, Turner was head of the English department and professor of English at Mississippi College, Clinton. Turner’s 28-year career in teaching and administration has included service at six universities — Hardin-Simmons University, Mississippi College, Texas A & M, Baylor University, Tulane University and Sam Houston State University.
Turner has edited three books and authored numerous articles and professional papers. He was honored in 1992 with the Alpha Chi-Faculty Council Distinguished Professor Award at Mississippi College.
A native of Mobile, Ala., he holds a Ph.D. from Tulane University in 19th-century British and America literature and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Baylor.
Turner and his wife, Annette, a first-grade teacher at Dyess Elementary School in Abilene, have two children: Scott, who works for an advertising firm in Austin, and Shannon, a law student at the University of Texas.
The Turners are active members of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church where he teaches a Bible class.
Turner said, “I am humbled and grateful that the board of trustees has seen fit to offer me the opportunity to succeed Dr. Lanny Hall in serving as the 14th president of Hardin-Simmons University. I have been privileged for the past seven years to work with a dedicated faculty and staff under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Hall and the direction and support of a committed board of trustees. Together with a great student body, Dr. Hall, the trustees, and faculty and staff have prepared HSU for its greatest days as we enter the 21st century. Annette and I feel very blessed that God has led us to serve Hardin-Simmons at this point in its history.”
Hunter, in her statement, said, “I have no doubt that it is the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit that has led us to this decision.”
Concerning Hall, Hunter said, “Dr. Lanny Hall has given meaning to the title of president of this university. He is a man who walks daily with our Lord. He is a man of great vision and wisdom. He loves this university.”