• Dr. Jenifer K. Ward

    Luther's 11th President

On March 18, 2019, the Luther College Board of Regents announced the unanimous election of Dr. Jenifer K. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College. The election of Dr. Ward by the Board of Regents followed a unanimous recommendation from the presidential search committee.

We are at a crucial inflection point in the history of liberal arts education in our country, and in a world that needs the kind of graduates Luther College fosters. Everyone I met during the search process impressed me with their tough questions, their love for Luther, and their commitment to ensuring a bright future for our students and the communities and environments they will help steward. I look forward to exploring Decorah and to joining in the work of the generations who have shaped the legacy of this great institution.

- Dr. Jenifer K. Ward, President-elect

President-elect Jenifer K. Ward

President-elect Jenifer K. Ward joins the Luther College community as its 11th President, bringing 12 years of experience in college administration and more than three decades as an educator, scholar, and academic leader. During her most recent tenure as provost and dean of the college at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Ward was responsible for overseeing all facets of both academic affairs and student life, including Student Support, Intercultural Engagement, Career Services, Integrated Advising, the Chaplain's Office, Institutional Research and the Registrar, Residence Life, Athletics (until 2016), Counseling and Disability Services, Student Involvement, the Library, Archives, Grants and Faculty Endowments, the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, and the Meadows Museum of Art.

She leaves Centenary with an extensive list of achievements, which include:

  • Establishing an office of Grants and Faculty Endowments that led to more than one million dollars in grants to support academic and creative initiatives
  • Implementing and overseeing academic programs, such as “Centenary in Paris”, an all first-year study abroad course
  • Overseeing the additions of new majors in Education and Accounting, as well as minors in Legal Studies and Engineering Sciences
  • Overseeing the completion of the move from Division I to Division III Athletics
  • Stewarding the successful re-accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music and the American Alliance of Museums
  • Assisting in obtaining major endowment gifts for the college

Prior to joining Centenary, Dr. Ward served in a variety of different leadership roles at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, including dean of the college, interim provost and associate provost. While in these roles, she established programs that opened up new revenue streams for the college, worked with Human Resources to establish a college-wide infrastructure to support diversity-focused initiatives across campus, and led a process to become the administrative home of the Neddy Artist Awards at Cornish, also serving as its first director.

President-elect Ward will join the esteemed list of Luther College presidents on July 1, 2019.

  • Dr. Ward is a visionary and passionate leader who has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to effectively lead transformational change with an inclusive and collaborative style that builds relationships and inspires and motivates her colleagues across campus to achieve a shared vision. In today’s world where higher education and global societies are rapidly evolving, she is an authentic and servant leader who is committed to the enduring value of a Luther education. We are honored and excited to welcome Dr. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College.

    – J. Robert Paulson, Jr., vice chair of Luther’s Board of Regents, chair of the presidential search committee and 1978 Luther alumnus

The Search for Luther’s 11th President

President-elect Ward was unanimously recommended to the Luther College board of regents by a 13-member presidential search committee, led by regent vice chair, Bob Paulson ’78. The members of the search committee included individuals representing the Luther College board of regents, students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and the city of Decorah.

The search committee used a hybrid search model. The initial open phase actively sought input and nominations from across the various Luther College communities through a series of individual and group discussions, campus forums and a survey. In the second confidential phase, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a national higher education search consultant, contacted more than 1,000 people and assembled a pool of about 70 distinguished individuals from top-tier colleges, universities and comprehensive organizations outside of academia.

During the confidential phase of the search process, the search committee selected and reviewed a group of top candidates and, following two rounds of interviews, selected one finalist to participate in the third phase, which included confidential meetings and one-on-one sessions with more than 35 regents, faculty, students, senior members of the administration and staff, and regent and faculty emeriti. Using the input and the results of this extensive evaluation process, the search committee unanimously recommended Ward to the board of regents.

  • Dr. Ward’s background in both her personal and professional life combined with her wide experience in the liberal arts and passion and commitment to the principles of what it means to be a college of the church made her an exemplary candidate resulting in a unanimous recommendation from the search committee and a unanimous vote of support from the Board of Regents.

    – Wendy Davidson, chair of Luther’s Board of Regents and 1992 Luther alumna
  • The Luther College presidency is such well-deserved recognition of Jenifer’s inspiring leadership and her passion for articulating the transformative power of a liberal arts education. Jenifer and I have enjoyed a wonderful collaborative working relationship, and it has been my distinct pleasure to have her as a colleague at Centenary. I know that our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners will share my sadness at her departure from this campus. We all wish her well and are excited to follow her leadership at Luther.

    – Dr. Christopher L. Holoman, Centenary president