CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, announced his retirement from the university.
The president, in his 22nd year at CU, said, “It has been a great honor to serve this wonderful university, its faculty, staff, coaches and students. We have accomplished and exceeded many of the goals we first envisioned. It is time for a new chapter in my life.”
Henry Lee, chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, said, “The tenure of Mike Carter at this institution has had a profound influence for positive change. He has set a course that has forever transformed Campbellsville University.”
Carter was appointed president on Aug. 1, 1999 and had his thumbprint on a multitude of improvements in programs, physical facilities and budgets. Carter said, “I felt a calling to come to Campbellsville University. I now leave knowing that my time here has been what God intended.”
The university has moved to a Level 5 institution in its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges* designation, graduating its first class of Ph.D. students this month. This is opening the doors for additional doctoral degree programs.
Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said, “During Dr. Carter’s administration, Campbellsville University aggressively pursued a vision of expansion and growth for academic and technical programs. Improving opportunities for all students to access quality Christian higher education has been a top priority. This is evidenced in the wide array of educational offerings now available to students from certificate programs to doctoral degrees.”
The breadth of programming has increased from work-ready certificates to the Ph.D. With more than 500 students in the Flanagan Technology Training Center, the programs are educating students in industrial, business and healthcare fields to enter careers of choice.
In accordance with the program growth, the university full-time faculty body has increased from 74 to more than 200. Overall, nearly 1,200 full and part-time faculty and staff are now employed by CU.
Enrollment numbers in the Carter tenure have grown from 1,600 to more than 13,500, including a record freshman class of 680 students in fall 2020. This has occurred in the midst of a pandemic year.
Dr. Shane Garrison, vice president for enrollment said, “I consider the time Dr. Carter has served as CU president to be the golden era in our institution’s 114-year history. There has never been a period where we have experienced such growth, expansion and visionary leadership like we have with Dr. Carter at the helm.”
During Carter’s presidency, the university has moved from its single campus location in Campbellsville, Ky. to eight centers across Kentucky and the United States, including two centers in California.
CU was recently approved by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada for yet another new center in Windsor, Ontario. The university has offices in India and China and is working on new opportunities in Europe, Africa and Central America.
“Mike Carter is the consummate entrepreneurial university president,” said Dr. H. Keith Spears, senior vice president and assistant to the president. “I saw his work in higher education before he came to CU. He painted a portrait of CU as a microcosm of America’s advancing universities and it has come to reality.”
Carter said, “The mission of Campbellsville University is to develop servant leaders, and we have never considered political boundaries as stopping points. A Christian university’s mission should be worldwide, and that is where we have taken this institution.”
Coupled with new locations, the physical plant for CU has been augmented by leaps and bounds during the Carter years. “More than 45 new buildings have come under the university’s domain,” Otto Tennant, vice president for administration and operations, said.
“President Carter came with a vision for a landmark chapel, but that was just the first of a greater foresight that he brought to CU.”
The university properties include 1.1 million square feet.
As a private institution, CU depends on donations and Carter took the annual giving and capital campaigns to new levels, Benji Kelly, vice president for development, said.
More than $125 million has been raised for program and capital improvements. “Dr. Carter’s vision has been bold,” Kelly said. “He has shown it would take significant dollars for Campbellsville University to become a premier Christian university. In many respects, Mike Carter became the lead fundraiser and givers have responded to reach our goals and go beyond,” Kelly said. Under Carter’s leadership, the university endowment increased nearly 400%.
The budgets for CU have climbed accordingly under Carter’s influence. From 1999 to 2020, university budgets have grown nearly 650%, with total assets increasing by more than 375%. Through this progress, the university has made itself a major economic player in many communities.
Tim Judd, vice president for finance, said of Carter’s work, “The physical borders of CU have expanded significantly over the past 20 years, leading to increased enrollment and strong financial stability. This stability will serve as the foundation for growth in years to come.”
The communities and the government agencies that serve the region have seen the financial and cultural influences of the university become increasingly evident since Carter took his position in 1999. The most recent university economic impact study in 2019 showed CU has an economic impact of over $137 million in Taylor County and nearly $200 million across the university system.
Dr. John Chowning, executive assistant to the president of Campbellsville University for government, community and constituent relations, said, “During the presidency of Dr. Carter, the overall economic impact of Campbellsville University has grown tremendously in terms of taxes generated in the local economy of the community and expansion of training and educational programs. CU has also been an agent of social change in terms of commitment to diversity and growth at its main campus in Campbellsville-Taylor County and the communities served by its regional centers across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
New teams and sports programs have become synonymous with the Carter years. “Athletics plays a key role in the development of the whole person,” Carter said. “I have always seen this extracurricular activity as essential.”
Typically, a new sports team was developed each year with a growing athletic coaching staff. CU has nearly 850 students competing in 30 programs. A new football/soccer stadium is in the final stages of construction on the main campus.
Rusty Hollingsworth, vice president for student services and athletics, said, “I will always appreciate the support that athletics received from Dr. Carter. CU was able to add a significant number of facilities, programs, coaches and student-athletes during the last two decades.
“While Dr. Carter encouraged and supported the growth, his paramount focus has always been the student-athlete. He has been unwavering in his commitment for student-athletes having a great experience and being able to leave Campbellsville University with a diploma in their hands.”
Debbie Carter, who is the wife of the president, is also retiring. She was instrumental in the early days of securing national accreditation for the Carver School of Social Work. Not only has Mrs. Carter been a teacher and premier First Lady, but she has become part of the fabric of “caring” that has been a hallmark of the Carter administration.
She became well known throughout the Commonwealth in seeking locations for social work students field work assignments to gain professional experience while sharing the Christian values of the university.
In recent years she originated and oversaw the “Bridge to Success” program, raising funds and creating a way for worthy students, who were without financial means or home support, to attend the university.
Dr. and Mrs. Carter’s last official day will be Dec. 31, 2020.
The board will be announcing new leadership in the coming days.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 13,500 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.
* Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact SACSCOC at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.