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Melissa Taverner named 19th president of Lyon College

BATESVILLE, Ark. (February 18, 2022) – The Lyon College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to elect Dr. Melissa Taverner as the 19th president of Lyon College.

Chairman of the Board Perry Wilson announced Taverner to the faculty and staff following the board meeting.

“I want to thank the board of trustees for this honor,” Taverner said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to strengthen the College’s mission while expanding opportunities for students through our strategic initiatives.”

She continued, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with exceptional faculty, staff and students at Lyon during my time as Provost, and I’m excited to collaborate with them in this new role as we work toward not only preserving the Lyon legacy but also ensuring the College’s bright future.”

Since becoming interim president in August 2021, Taverner has overseen the initial steps of a transition to NCAA Division III for Lyon College Athletics, a move that embraces the College’s dedication to academics and will allow the College to compete against other selective colleges with similar academic expectations. She has also worked with the board of trustees, as well as faculty and staff, to expand Lyon College’s mission statement to offer select graduate programs. Additionally, Taverner has been instrumental in organizing a partnership with the White River Medical Center and White River Health System (WRHS) on a proposed RN to BSN nursing program at Lyon. Pending approval from the College’s regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, the nursing program could begin in 2023 and would utilize both the Lyon campus and WRHS resources.

Taverner joined Lyon College in October 2017 when she accepted the position of provost and Dean of Faculty. Since January 2018, she has worked with the faculty to establish an Army ROTC/ Military Science and Leadership concentration, a major/minor in exercise science, a major in anthropology, and a major in communications studies. She further organized and solidified the Student Support resources by creating an integrated Student Success Committee with representation from Academics, Student Life, Athletics, Admissions and Institutional Research. Additionally, she has been working with the Lyon faculty to revise and update the core curriculum; mission, goals and student learning outcomes have been established, and the work of curriculum construction is ongoing.

Before joining Lyon, Taverner was an Associate Professor of Biology at Emory & Henry College, a national liberal arts college located in Emory, Virginia.  From 2016 to 2017, she served as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. In her 22 years there, she also served as Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, Director of Assessment, and Chair of the Department of Biology.

Taverner received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, her Master of Science in virology from the University of Reading (United Kingdom), and her B.A. in Biology from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. A Virginia native, she is married to David Taverner and has two children, Rachel Titus and Jordan Taverner.