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John Weems to retire from Meredith College presidency

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP)–John E. Weems has announced his retirement as president of Meredith College, Raleigh, N.C., a 2,500-student women’s college with financial ties, until this year, with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Weems, 65, Meredith’s president since 1971, will go on sabbatical from July 1, 1998, until retiring on June 30, 1999.
Meredith describes itself as the largest women’s college in the Southeast.
Meredith’s executive vice president, Charles E. Taylor, and the college’s senior management team will administer the planning and operational functions of the college until a new president is selected, according to an announcement of Weems’ retirement Nov. 24 by Norman Kellum, board of trustees chairman.
Upon retirement, Weems will become president emeritus and assist in college fund-raising initiatives. Weems led campaigns in 1994, which netted $10.6 million; 1986, netting $20 million; and 1976, $5 million.
“John Weems has led Meredith to a position of great strength and prominence,” Kellum said. “Meredith is perfectly positioned to capitalize on his leadership, and we are confident we will do so. While it will be impossible to replace Dr. Weems, a search committee will be appointed to find a person who can build on the strong foundation that is his legacy.”
Commenting on his 27-year tenure, Weems said, “Meredith is in an enviable position of strength and stability. The past three decades have been years of remarkable growth, and I’m proud to have served as president during this time.”
During Weem’s era, Meredith:
— almost doubled its enrollment from 1,362 in 1972 to 2,552 in 1997;
— almost doubled its full-time faculty from 57 in 1972 to 106 in 1997;
— more than doubled the percentage of faculty doctorates from 40 percent to 82 percent;
— remained debt-free while more than doubling the size of the physical plant, constructing 12 new facilities.
— increased its endowment and reserves from $887,061 to $49,581,656; and
— increased the financial assistance awarded annually from $388,605 to $10,820,827.
In February, the 36-member board of trustees voted to end state convention appointment of trustees and instead make the board self- perpetuating in 1998, increasing the number of board-selected trustees by 25 percent each year until the change is completed in 2001.
In November, the state convention adopted new relational guidelines with Meredith acknowledging the college’s election of its own trustees and no longer including it in the convention’s annual budget allocation for state Baptist colleges and universities. Meredith had been receiving $1 million a year from the convention, or about 4 percent of its budget. The state convention will continue to send money to the Meredith as designated by individual churches. The new relationship is patterned similar to an agreement reached in 1986 between the state convention and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem.
Before assuming Meredith’s presidency, Weems had been vice president for finance and administration at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, from 1968-71 and dean of administration, 1961- 68; dean of admissions and registration at Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro, 1959-61; and dean of students and director of admissions and placement at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), Wilson, N.C., 1955-59.
The Nashville, Tenn., native earned three degrees from Nashville’s George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University): a bachelor of science, 1953; master of arts, 1956; and doctor of education, 1965.
Among Weems’ professional and civic involvements over the years, he has been president of the Southern Association of Women’s Colleges and the Independent College Fund of North Carolina.
He and his wife, Ruth, have two sons and a daughter.