Board announces first female president

By Brad Barber

Emberton shakes hands with students after she was announced as the next president. (Photo by Jared Huhta)

The board of trustees has unanimously named Sherilyn R. Emberton, Ed.D., as the next president. She will be the 13th president and first female president in institution history. She will assume the position on June 1.

“Today is a great day to become a Forester,” Emberton said. “I am so excited.”

Emberton will replace G. Blair Dowden, Ed.D., who announced his retirement in October 2012, after 21 years as president.

Emberton said that she is convinced that the university will continue its tradition of sharing its faith through academics and service. She was impressed by the “foot print of service” by the students and noted the successes of graduates from the institution.

“I am so thrilled to partner with faculty, staff and students as we move forward in this next year,” she said.

Emberton noted that she wanted to continue her career with a Christian university.

“I made a conscious decision a few years ago that if I was going to pursue executive leadership at any institution, it would have to be an institution focused on faith,” she said.

Emberton said that she has a strong financial acumen and feels like she can succeed in leading the university financially.

She said the university was the right place for her because the students wanted an active and involved president. She cited this Huntingtonian editorial as “one of the key things” that encouraged her to pursue the job.

“You wanted a president that would come and spend time with you,” Emberton said. “I love that part. You hooked me there.”

Emberton also said she is “very excited” about the board of trustees approving the Peoria, Ariz. branch campus.

“I think it’s a great opportunity not only to advance programs but also to advance our faith in that area of the country,” she said.

Junior Will Stauffer, the newly elected student body president, said that he plans to develop a strong relationship with Emberton and help the campus community get to know her better.

“Part of my role is to assist her with interacting with students as much as possible, plan events to help her to do so and help her get a feel for the community,” he said.

Kelly Savage, chair of the board of trustees, said it was a very lengthy process, but the board is excited to have Emberton as president.

“She builds programs and knows how to build programs for the university,” Savage said. “We want someone that is a builder at this university.”

Emberton said that before she makes any sweeping changes she wants to get to know the resources that she has already in place here.

“We may have a super team in here that can have galvanize and do those things [advance the university],” Emberton said.

Ann McPherren, Ph.D., said that the presidential advisory task force, the team that selected Emberton, knew what they wanted in a president and Emberton fit the description well.

“We really were in one mind as we thought about someone that is Christ-centered, someone that is student-centered and someone that is forward looking,” McPherren said.

Matthew Ruiz, Ph.D., represented the faculty in the decision and said the choice was easy. He said he is excited that Emberton had served as a dean because it is a valuable experience that some of the institution’s recent presidents did not have.

“She was actually the first candidate we interviewed,” Ruiz said. “She kind of set the bar, and we probably could have stopped after the first interview.”

Dowden and Emberton (Photo by Laura Good)

Freshman Luke McConnell said that he is looking forward to Emberton’s presidency and working with her through his position on Student Senate.

“I think she will be great with community here,” he said. “I’ve heard that she just loves to come hang out with students and get to know people. I think she is going to be great getting to know students and just really caring about our campus.”

Emberton currently serves as provost and the vice president for academic affairs at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. East Texas Baptist is a private, residential and faith-based liberal arts institution serving the tri-states area of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. She has been at East Texas Baptist since 2010.

Prior to East Texas Baptist, Emberton served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Lincoln Memorial University, in Harrogate, Tenn.

Emberton received her doctorate of education from Texas A&M University in 1999. She completed her undergraduate and masters work at Stephen A. Austin University.

Emberton is currently a National Advisory Taskforce Member for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Chief Academic Officers. She received the 2012 Meritorious Service Award from the National Conference of Academic Deans (NCAD). She was the conference co-chair for the NCAD in 2012.

Emberton is not married and does not have any children.

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