COLUMBIA — Westminster College’s board of trustees named George B. “Barney” Forsythe the 20th president of the Fulton school on Saturday.
Forsythe had been serving as the acting president since October 2007, when former president Fletcher M. Lamkin resigned for personal reasons.
Forsythe said the college is on a “very good trajectory” and would like to work toward the goal of students making a difference wherever they find themselves.
He said students live in an interconnected world, and he wants to create conditions where students can learn how to live and serve in a global environment through study and application.
“We are going to ... really continue the momentum that we have built over the course of the last few years around the central theme of developing leaders in a global community,” Forsythe said.
He said he wants to have the college be increasingly connected not only in mid-Missouri, but nationally and internationally as well.
Rob Crouse, director of college relations at Westminster, said Forsythe was the logical choice to replace Lamkin. He’s been the No. 2 man at the school since 2005, when he became the senior vice president and dean of faculty.
While Forsythe’s appointment was originally thought to be temporary, Crouse said the board of trustees began to look at Forsythe as a candidate after a few weeks.
“They realized they had a rather unique opportunity here because Dr. Forsythe had been in here, had been involved in setting the direction of the college, which the board of trustees liked, that perhaps they should take a look at him as a potential president,” Crouse said. “Perhaps there wasn’t a need to do a search.”
The board was able to see Forsythe performing the job, an opportunity not afforded through job interviews alone. Crouse said they saw him making day-to-day decisions, interacting with alumni and raising funds, roles that he would not have been exposed to as dean of faculty.
Forsythe met with faculty and staff, students and the alumni council throughout the evaluation process, Crouse said. Each group had the opportunity to ask him questions, and the faculty and staff were given evaluations to fill out and return to the board. About 100 alumni provided online feedback, and Forsythe’s state of the college address and answers to the alumni council’s questions were posted on the Internet.
Also during the evaluation process, the board spoke with higher education officials who had worked with Forsythe in other schools and Fulton community leaders.
“They realized more and more that they had the perfect candidate,” Crouse said.
Forsythe graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and earned a master’s degree in college teaching in social psychology and a doctorate in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He retired from the Army in the grade of brigadier general after 35 years of commissioned service, according to the Westminster College Web site.
“I think everybody here is extremely pleased that we have a permanent president in place so that things can confidently move forward and that everybody’s extremely pleased that that person is Dr. Forsythe, because he is very well-loved and respected here,” Crouse said.