TWC inaugurates Dr. Harley Knowles as 21st president

Posted on: April 12, 2012

Thursday, April 12 was Inauguration Day at Tennessee Wesleyan College.


Thursday, April 12 was Inauguration Day at Tennessee Wesleyan College. Dr. Harley Knowles was officially inaugurated as TWC’s 21st president and community members, visiting colleagues and TWC faculty, staff, students and alumni gathered together in Townsend Memorial Hall for the inauguration investiture to celebrate his past nine months of work at the college.

Award-winning author and social activist Paul Loeb was the keynote speaker at the 9 a.m. academic symposium in Trinity United Methodist Church, challenging faculty, students and guests to be responsible citizens who live lives of empowerment. The inauguration investiture took place at 11 a.m. in Townsend Memorial Hall and was followed by an afternoon of lunch and music on the quad. A 5 p.m. musical performance in Townsend Memorial Hall featuring the TWC Concert Choir, Vox Humana and Chorale wrapped up the day’s events.

Celebrating the inauguration of Dr. Harley Knowles as TWC’s 21st president, community members and colleagues from McMinn County Mayor John Gentry to Chairman of TWC Board of Trustees Jim Winer officially welcomed Knowles and recognized the role that the college plays within the community.

“Since 1857 Tennessee Wesleyan and McMinn County have enjoyed a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship,” said Gentry. “For over a century and a half, TWC has educated many of our students and in turn has produced many of our private and public sector leaders. McMinn County is grateful for the valuable role TWC has played in the development of this community.”

Following welcomes from community leaders and visiting colleagues, Dr. Harley Knowles spoke proudly of the nine months he has spent serving as Tennessee Wesleyan College’s 21st president. Citing community support and a faculty that operates more like a family than a collection of employees, Knowles thanked colleagues and community members who have helped him transition smoothly into his presidential role.

“It’s hard to imagine a community across this country that is more inextricably intertwined in the life and the future success of a college than this community,” said Knowles, who took over the office of TWC president July 1. “I’m inspired by your faith and commitment in seeing that Tennessee Wesleyan takes its distinctive place as a leader in higher education.”

Knowles acknowledged the college’s faculty and staff for their unwavering dedication to the success of the college.

“The Wesleyan community is a group of selfless, committed faculty and staff who believe in putting the college’s ambitions above and beyond their own personal considerations,” Knowles said. “I asked myself many times, ‘Why do so many of you act in solidarity to teach and guide generations of young people who walk under the Wesleyan arches?’ I think I’ve discovered why.

“Because Wesleyan faculty and staff have experienced the power of learning in their own lives and they endeavor to offer up the same awakening in the lives of others. This college community values the transformational power of learning and the promise of career, spiritual and personal prosperity that a rigorous college experience provides, as well as the promise that it provides the community.”

Knowles is currently finalizing a strategic plan with a strategic planning council comprised of trustees, faculty and staff. The strategic plan will highlight what the college’s focus will be as it looks toward future growth that would position the college to become a university offering newly formed graduate programs.

Focused on five strategic themes, the strategic plan addresses launching new and distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs, substantial enhancements to campus life for all students, a significant expansion of outreach and growth opportunities that further strengthens the religious core of the college and maintaining an organizational culture and structure that’s supportive of a high-performing, comprehensive college.

“The college’s greatest resource is its faculty and staff,” said Knowles. “The success of the college is dependent on the creation and maintenance of a campus climate that values teamwork, open communication, professional development and unparalleled commitment to continuous improvement.”

Looking to the future, Knowles sees endless opportunities for advancement at the college.

“Despite challenging times, the Wesleyan community has faith and hope in a better day,” said Knowles. “An essential belief here is that anything is possible, if you bring all of your talents to bear on the important work ahead.”

That important work starts with the leadership and direction of the college president said Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jim Winer in his welcome to Knowles.

“In just over nine short months, Dr. Knowles has worked hard to orient himself in a complex organization, constituent base and new community, as well as reinvigorated Tennessee Wesleyan College’s strategic planning process, managed the successful negotiation with debt with the college’s lending partners, supported and encouraged the implementation of best practices and worked to create an atmosphere where faculty and staff can be the brilliant people that they are,” said Winer.

“As a college community, we’re fortunate to have Dr. Knowles lead us.”