Knowles selected as TWC's 21st President

Posted on: April 22, 2011

Dr. Harley Knowles has been selected as the 21st president of TWC. The announcement came following the Board of Trustees Spring meeting.

Dr. Harley KnowlesDr. Harley Knowles has been selected as the 21st president of Tennessee Wesleyan College.

Currently Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the University of New England in Maine, Knowles was selected by the college’s presidential search committee from more than 100 qualified applicants and nominees for the position. The TWC Board of Trustees unanimously elected Knowles to the position on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re excited to have a president of Dr. Knowles’ caliber and know his ideas for advancing the college’s mission and reach in the ever-changing global community will ensure stability for Tennessee Wesleyan’s tradition of providing a stellar education to students and giving them the tools to make great contributions in their respective fields and communities worldwide,” said Jim Winer, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees and a member of the search committee.

Knowles said he is both “humbled and honored” to be given the opportunity to serve TWC as its next president.

“I’m eager to work with the talented faculty and staff to expand the college’s rich tradition of educational excellence and service to the region,” Knowles said. “My wife and I are excited about the many possibilities this opportunity brings.”

Since 2007, Knowles has served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the University of New England, which operates campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine. His responsibilities there have included fundraising, alumni programming and government and community relations. During his tenure at UNE, he has led a team that has achieved historic fundraising totals and landed the largest gift in the university’s history, among other accomplishments.

Prior to joining UNE, Knowles spent 16 years in various capacities at Shenandoah University in Virginia. As Vice President for Development, he directed a $65 million fundraising campaign that resulted in several new facilities and a significant increase in the school’s endowment. Knowles also served as Vice President for Student Affairs at Shenandoah, overseeing the student life program and spearheading a project that achieved substantial gains in student retention.

Aside from his 14 years of executive leadership, Knowles’ 24-year higher education career has included work in student affairs at the College of William and Mary and the University of Maine.

A native New Englander, Knowles earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Maine at Orono and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He is married to Virginia native, Cindy Coulson, who is a former college administrator. The couple presently resides in Freeport, Maine.

“While our three finalists were all stellar professionals, the search committee – as well as the faculty, staff, students and a number of alumni and community members – all felt Dr. Knowles possesses the most applicable experience, as well as the leadership and character qualities our campus community needs and desires,” said Joe Riley, a TWC trustee and chairman of the search committee. “The committee put in many hours of work over the course of a year to ensure Tennessee Wesleyan gets a new president who will be a good fit for both the college and the community. We’ve found that president in Harley Knowles.”

Riley led the committee along with the Rev. Dennie Humphreys and Greg Moses, who served as vice chairman and secretary, respectively. Riley and Humphreys are both members of the TWC Board of Trustees, while Moses served as a community representative.

Other committee members included TWC Board chairman Jim Winer and Board members Steve Byrum, Bill Kilbride, Buddy Liner, Dr. Lynn Massingale, Claire Tucker, Maj. Gen. Fred Womack (USAF-Ret.), Shirley Woodcock, Paul Ottaviano, Matt Brookshire, Regenia Mayfield and Holston Conference Bishop James Swanson. Faculty members on the committee included Drs. Grant Willhite, Patti Jones and Elizabeth Ruleman, professors of biology, education and English, respectively. Staff representatives included senior vice president Larry Wallace and Cindy Runyan, executive assistant to the president. Student Government Association President Nathan Ervin served as the student representative. Tenna Hornsby, president of the Alumni Board, served as alumni representative. Former TWC Board of Trustees member Becky Jaquish represented both the community and the Holston Conference.

The committee enlisted the services and expertise of former Indiana Wesleyan University President Dr. Jim Barnes of the search firm RPA, Inc., to aid in the selection process.

Knowles’ will officially take the helm of Tennessee Wesleyan College in July. Long-time TWC administrator, faculty member and coach Stan Harrison will continue his role as the college’s interim president until that time.