Advancing Private Higher Education

President's Office

As the 12th president of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Dr. Frederick (Fred) K. Whitt leads the university to provide a new level of excellence to the private higher education experience.


Dr. Fred Whitt, PresidentDr. Frederick (Fred) K. Whitt, the 12th president of Lenoir-Rhyne University, is a recognized leader in higher education who oversees Lenoir-Rhyne’s more than 2,700 students. Under his leadership, the university has continued to break enrollment growth records – both at the undergraduate and graduate level and in the last fiscal year, 2019-20, through the extraordinary generosity of alumni, parents and friends, LR raised more than $9.05 million in commitments.

Positive growth continues to occur at Lenoir-Rhyne. Since his inauguration in 2017, the university created the Lenoir-Rhyne Promise; the inaugural class for the first doctoral program – Family nurse Practitioner/Doctor of Nursing program - started in 2018; the Master of Public Health (MPH) program received national accreditation, making it the only MPH program among private universities in North Carolina; the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute certificate program was launched; five sports have been added, including women’s triathlon and bass fishing, and many other accomplishments.

Through the implementation of Whitt’s strategic plan, Pivoting to a New Level of Excellence, the university has enhanced its reputation as a nationally recognized liberal arts university. In the first year of its implementation, the university has launched a pilot program for First-Generation Students and student life enhancements have occurred on all three campuses via multiple building projects including the Alex and Lee George Science Hall on the Hickory campus and the new Health Sciences building housing the occupational therapy program at the Columbia Campus.

Whitt has over 30 years of successful leadership experience in higher education to Lenoir-Rhyne. Previously, he served as Founding Dean of the Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS) at his alma mater, Appalachian State University. He had served as Dean since 2010 when he was appointed to lead the development of the first new college at Appalachian State in over 40 years. Whitt’s visionary leadership, passion for excellence, commitment for creating a collaborative culture, and development of significant community

Whitt earned his doctorate from the University of Tennessee, and his master of arts and bachelor of science degrees from Appalachian State. Prior to joining Appalachian State, he served as Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia Southern University from 1992 to 2010.

A Mount Holly, NC native, Whitt and his wife, Donna, a NC native and a nurse educator, have been married for more than 40 years and are the proud parents of two adult married sons.

Letters from the President

  • DEI Council for the 2021-22 Academic Year Announced

    Good Afternoon –

    Please know we have launched the LR DEI Council for the 2021-22 academic year. We have an outstanding group who represent faculty from each college, staff, students, administration, athletics, Columbia and Asheville. This council will be chaired by our new VP for DEI, Avery Staley, and they held their first meeting this past Wednesday.  They are scheduled to meet twice monthly and will be developing a work plan for the campus to enhance our DEI initiatives and  make recommendations to move our entire LR community forward. I have charged them to help us implement education, training and revision of policies and procedures in an effort to make LR the most welcoming and engaging campus possible for all members of our LR community. The challenge and charge is to begin to look at all we do through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion.

    Lenoir-Rhyne DEI Council 2021-2022

    • Avery Staley, Chair Vice President for DEI and Chief Diversity Officer
    • Eric Brandon, Director of International and Special Projects
    • Lesly James, Columbia Campus, Occupational Therapy
    • Michael Lemke, College of Education
    • Ryan Luhrs, College of Fine Arts & Communication
    • Mindy Makant, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Keith McDade, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Asheville
    • Cat Niekro, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
    • Tunay Oguz, College of Business & Economics
    • Kim Price, College of Health Sciences
    • AJ Qureshi, Student Success and First Year Advising
    • Todd Cutter, Director of Spiritual Life and Campus Pastor
    • Michael Spivey, Counseling Services
    • Everick Sullivan, Athletics – Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Remembering 9/11/2001

    This time of year has special meanings for many. Some are beginning a new year in college, others their first day of school or the start of a new job. September reminds us that fall is just around the corner, and we feel a sense of rebirth and time for a fresh start.

    At the same time, the events of September 11, 2001, remain prevalent in our thoughts and memory. While many of our students had not yet entered the world or were too young to remember, others of us can remember the exactly where we were when learned of the attacks. We watched in horror the images on television as we realized our country had been attacked by terrorists in such an unimaginable way. This day shook us to the core and changed the way we view the world, the way we live our lives, and challenged our own beliefs and thinking. 

    I have watched several documentaries this week as we remember these events 20 years later. I have been touched by the stories of families who lost loved ones and of the heroes who led many to safety, the memories of young children (now grown) and teachers at the school where President Bush was visiting when he learned of the attacks. It also reminded me of how this horrific event led to a sense of unity for our country as we navigated the aftermath together.

    In that spirit of unity and compassion, I hope we can all take a moment to remember and pray for all those who died and all the family members and loved ones who whose lives were affected by this tragic event. In addition, I hope that we can pledge and challenge ourselves to use our talents, skills and energy to lift others up, support the marginalized, and love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

    Please join our community at 10 a.m. in front of Grace Chapel today for a brief prayer remembering the many lost on this day.

    Fred Whitt, President