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Rhodes College Vice President Milton Moreland named 21st president of Centre College

Milton C. Moreland, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rhodes College, has been selected to serve as the 21st president of Centre College. A scholar of religion and an accomplished archaeologist, Moreland will begin his term on July 1.

Moreland will succeed John A. Roush, whose 22-year presidency is notable for its breadth of institutional transformation at a time of significant change in American higher education.

“I have long followed Centre’s remarkable trajectory and its well-deserved status as one of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges,” Moreland said.

“It will be a significant privilege to serve in this leadership role,” he added, “and I look forward to working with the entire campus community to continue the College’s focus on fostering a diverse and inclusive learning community that prepares young people for citizenship and leadership in an increasingly complex and challenging world.”

Milton C. Moreland (Image from Centre College)

Moreland emerged as the unanimous choice of the 18-member search committee comprised of trustees, faculty, staff and a student representative, including many Centre alumni, after an extensive national search.

“Centre was fortunate to have a very deep and impressive candidate pool for this exciting leadership opportunity,” according to Mark E. Nunnelly ’80, who chairs the Centre College Board of Trustees and oversaw the presidential search.

Nunnelly emphasized that the exhaustive process attracted a diverse representation of candidates from all walks of life.

“The qualifications of those interested in leading Centre into its third century of service,” he added, “is testament to the important place Centre has assumed in American higher education ever since its founding in 1819.”

A native of Boise, Idaho, Moreland earned his undergraduate degree in history with honors from the University of Memphis, where his mentor, Dr. Marcus Orr, introduced him to the joy of studying ancient texts, languages and artifacts. Moreland wrote his honors thesis on the Nag Hammadi Library, a set of early Christian texts discovered in Egypt in 1945. He continued his study of archaeology, ancient history and religion at the Claremont Graduate University in California, where he earned his MA and Ph.D. degrees.

His scholarly work appears in leading journals and focuses on the New Testament and early Christianity. Moreland has also edited several books, including Between Text and Artifact: Integrating Archaeology into Biblical Studies Teaching.

Since 2014, Moreland has served as the chief academic officer at Rhodes, a private liberal arts college in Memphis that, like Centre, is consistently ranked among the best in the nation. He first joined the Rhodes campus community in 2003 as an assistant professor of religious studies and was promoted to associate and full professor, serving as the R.A. Webb Professor of Religious Studies.

During that time, Moreland directed the Rhodes Institute of Regional Studies; was the founding director of the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center; and chaired the program in archaeology. Outside of the classroom, his field work with students has involved travel to sites in Jordan, Turkey, Greece and Germany, including collaboration with the Duke University Field School in Galilee, Israel. Moreland was also on the senior staff of the Sepphoris Regional Archaeological Project in Galilee for over 20 years.

After arriving at Rhodes, Moreland also founded and chaired an interdisciplinary program in archaeology and began an archaeological field school in west Tennessee. He directed the excavation of sites connected to 19th-century enslavement at the Ames Plantation and concurrently shifted his scholarship to encompass studies of American slavery, racism, and systemic and institutionalized discrimination.

Moreland will begin his presidency at Centre during a time of unparalleled institutional strength.

Besides elevating its national profile, Roush’s legacy will be marked by success in achieving his vision of Centre as a place of “high achievement and high opportunity,” as well as transforming campus facilities.

Under Roush’s leadership, Centre expanded its enrollment by nearly 50 percent, nearly tripled its endowment (thanks to two successful capital campaigns) and strengthened its academic profile, all while increasing the diversity of the student body, including growth of its underrepresented, first-generation and international populations.

Search committee members were very enthusiastic about Moreland’s selection.

Life Trustee J. David Grissom ’60, who chaired Centre’s Board of Trustees for more than 20 years, was focused on finding a candidate whose strong academic background was complemented by a visionary outlook also suited to addressing the anticipated challenging environment for student recruitment.

“Milton sees the current and near-future not as a series of what he called ‘headwinds’ to hold us back,” observed Grissom, “but as opportunities to move us forward. I am confident he has all the skills necessary to accomplish this.”

Moreland with his wife, Dina (Photo from Centre College)

Board Secretary Crit Luallen ’74 agreed.

“Milton Moreland is the right person at the right time to lead Centre College,” she said. “He is deeply rooted in the liberal arts tradition, yet he is realistic about the challenges facing institutions like Centre and brings creative, visionary ideas that will help Centre adapt to a changing world while protecting all that is best about our past.”

Moreland will be joined by his wife, Dina, a native of Chesterfield, Indiana, and a former national champion racquetball player who competed on the USA team. She attended the University of Memphis, completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in gerontology and educational studies, and began her career as a pharmaceutical salesperson in Southern California, while enjoying touring as a professional racquetball player in the 1990’s. Since 2003, she has been an elementary school teacher in Memphis.

The Morelands have two grown children. Marcus, a 2016 graduate of Rhodes College, works as a manager for a logistics company in Memphis, and Micah is graduating this spring with a major in international studies and minor in Asian studies from Rhodes. Both of their sons were student-athletes, Marcus in baseball and Micah in football.

When they take residence in Craik House, the longtime residence of Centre presidents and their families, Milton and Dina will be accompanied by a rescue dog named Blue.

The Centre community will have its first opportunity to meet President-elect Moreland and his family at an All-Campus Assembly in Newlin Hall at the Norton Center for the Arts on Thursday, February 6 at 7 p.m., which will be followed by a public reception.

From Centre College

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