Lyon College will inaugurate Dr. W. Joseph King as its 18th president at 2 p.m. on April 20, 2018. Held in Couch Garden on the Lyon campus, the ceremony will both welcome the College’s new leader and celebrate the accomplishments he has achieved since taking office on July 1 of last year.
In only ten months, he has worked with the College’s faculty and staff to hammer out a new strategic plan for Lyon’s future, develop a new recruitment model, increase retention, establish more summer courses for students, build a new, larger digital network for the College and enact other campus improvements. Notably, he led the College’s movement towards a pet-friendly campus, created several new faculty positions in subjects of higher need and added four new varsity sports and four club sports that will enliven student life.
John Robinson is Executive Vice President of the Amon G. Carter Foundation, which supports work in the fields of art and culture, civic and public affairs, education, health, and human services. A person familiar with King’s work history, he states that “Joey King’s vision for the future of Lyon College is drawn from his past experience with academic excellence, best practices, and strategies to make meaningful improvements which will benefit students, faculty, and the entire campus.” He adds, “I look forward to seeing Joey, his leadership team, and the Board of Trustees take these next exciting steps.”
The festive celebration will include a march to Couch Garden led by the Lyon College Pipe Band. The Presbytery of Arkansas, the Synod of the Sun, delegates and guests from other colleges and universities, the class of 2018, staff, faculty, and the Board of Trustees will follow. The event will feature several musical performances and will allow members of the Lyon community to communicate to Dr. King their expectations of his presidential duties before Perry Wilson, chair of the Lyon Board, and Phil Baldwin, vice chair, inaugurate him.
Dr. Eugene M. Tobin, Senior Program Officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will deliver the inaugural address. Tobin served 23 years at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, as a faculty member, department chair, dean of the faculty and president. He holds degrees from Rutgers University and Brandeis University and has written or served as editor of several scholarly articles and books.
As it searched for a new president, Lyon required a leader in academe, technology, and business. King offered an outstanding record in all three areas. Before coming to Lyon, King was senior advisor to the president of Emory & Henry College in Virginia, vice president of innovation at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and a research scientist at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington.
At Rice University he was executive director of Connexions, a prominent open education system which began the MOOC (massive open online courses) movement, offering online access to thousands of college courses. Literally millions of students in dozens of countries have made use of open education options.
As executive director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, Dr. King helped almost 140 liberal arts colleges across the nation to integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology to become more strategic and innovative.
He is co-author, with Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, of the best-selling book in higher education administration, How to Run a College, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Their second book, The Creative Generation, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.
Of his co-author, Dr. Mitchell says, “Dr. King is an insightful, thoughtful, and creative leader who understands how the various puzzle pieces fit together in higher education. At the institutional level, he is a conservative and pragmatic steward who “wrote the book” on how to run a college. Lyon College will be a better place — more relevant, sustainable, and creative because of the work that Joey, the faculty and staff, and other key stakeholders can accomplish together.”
King currently serves as chairman of the board of Teachers Without Borders, an international non-profit organization that enables local educators to connect with colleagues globally. He is also on the board of directors of the Council on Library and Information Resources, the advisory board of the Theodore Roosevelt Center, and the advisory council of Stanford University Libraries.
He is a long-time supporter of liberal arts education, having endowed the King Creativity Fund at his alma mater, Southwestern University. Each year this fund supports “innovative and visionary projects” of students there. While the term “creativity” usually refers to the design and creation of something new, to King it also invokes the use of imagination, the willingness to tackle problems in unorthodox ways, a readiness to take risks, an openness to new perspectives, and an interest in innovation.
Taylor Hutchison, a 2016 Southwestern graduate and beneficiary of the King Creativity Fund for two years, says “I really don’t think that I would have had the same opportunities if I had not been able to participate” in fund-supported research. Now a student in Texas A & M’s Ph.D. program in astronomy, Hutchison was offered a Diversity Fellowship, reserved, she points out, “for extremely promising individuals who would provide a unique outlook to the program.” She attributes her success in getting this fellowship to the “many diverse research projects I had completed in my four years at Southwestern” which the Creativity Fund made possible.
Dr. King is proud to have mentored students whom he characterizes as “some of the most exceptional in America.” One such mentee is Rice University graduate student Pelham Keahey, one of the inaugural winners of a National Cancer Institute’s prestigious pre-doctoral/postdoctoral transition award, which helps fund graduate school and postdoctoral training. Keahey, who is pursuing a doctorate in applied physics, said the funds will support his development of low-cost, point-of-care optical imaging and molecular probes to improve the detection and treatment of cancer.
Another of his protégé is fellow Texan Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, a beauty e-commerce site and product-sample subscription service. Birchbox has more than 300 employees, 1 million subscribers, 4 million total customers, 800 brand partners, operations in six countries, and brick-and-mortar stores in New York City and Paris.
Senior vice president for academic and student affairs at Willamette University, Carol Long, says, “Having worked with Dr. King during his time at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, I know him to be a person of vision. He will lead the Lyon College community to new accomplishments with grace and integrity.”
Similarly, University of Richmond’s Tucker Boatwright Professor of Humanities and President Emeritus Ed Ayers says, “Dr. King and Lyon College will be a great team. He brings energy, vision, and boldness to everything he does and the college is positioned to take advantage of those attributes. The coming years are certain to be exciting and productive.”
In addition to his work in academe, he is also an entrepreneur and scientist. Dr. King was on the founding team and served as a chief scientist of F5 Networks. The technology company currently employs some 4,500 workers worldwide. F5 is publicly traded, with a market capitalization of $7.5 billion. It replaced Kodak in the S&P 500. Dr. King worked as a research scientist at Hughes Research Laboratories and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute. He served as a consultant to Atari Games, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Microsoft Research.
King grew up on a ranch in Texas. Graduating with honors from Southwestern University with a double major in computer science and experimental psychology, he was the first in his family to get a college degree, and he went on to earn a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from the University of Washington. He and his wife, Dr. S. Leigh King, are the parents of two children.
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