Dr. Jenifer K. Ward, provost and dean of the college for Centenary College of Louisiana, has been elected Luther's eleventh president. She will succeed President Paula Carlson on July 1, 2019, and will visit campus periodically before then to prepare for the presidential transition.
To view Dr. Ward's CV, please click here.
From 2014 to present, Dr. Jenifer K. Ward has served as Provost and Dean of the College for Centenary College of Louisiana, a tier one national liberal arts college and member of the Associated Colleges of the South, with affiliation to the United Methodist Church. As provost, Dr. Ward was tasked with integrating a liberal arts curriculum with co-curricular programming that would shape an educational experience designed to promote the intentional intellectual, as well as the creative, personal and professional growth of the whole student.
In this role, she oversees more than 15 departments, including Academic Affairs, which houses all of the college’s academic departments, schools and programs; Student Development; Residence Life; Career Services; and Integrated Advising.
As a leading member of the cabinet, Dr. Ward spent much of her time devoted to developing new programs to support student and faculty engagement. She procured a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop the Centenary in Paris program, a $30,000 grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education to review the campus climate for vocation and religious diversity, which led to the interfaith “Beliefs and Values” project, and established an office of Grants and Faculty Endowments that has led to more than one million dollars in grants to support academic and creative initiatives.
As dean of the college, Dr. Ward introduced new majors in Education and Accounting, as well as minors in Legal Studies and Engineering Sciences. She oversaw the college-wide transition from a 3-credit to a 4-credit base model, and developed pathway agreements with a variety of colleges and higher education institutions to create opportunities for incoming transfer students and graduate preferred admissions agreements.
She worked with the Louisiana Board of Regents and donors to reallocate or repurpose unfilled restricted endowed chairs and professorships to align with their curricular structure, developed an integrated advising program and created a Provost Council in order to integrate staff meetings of student development and academic affairs.
Dr. Ward served at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington from 2007-2014, initially as associate provost, then interim provost and ultimately dean of the college. As dean, Dr. Ward was a member of the cabinet and provided leadership for interdisciplinary, cross-college, international and externally focused initiatives. The Gallery and Exhibitions Program, the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, Summer at Cornish, External Programs, Accreditation and InterArts all reported to Ward.
Throughout her time at Cornish, Dr. Ward served as a negotiator and administrator for the faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement, staffed the Board committee on Academic and Student Affairs and had primary responsibility for all outward-facing programs. She led the effort to build a pre-college summer program, bringing the program from isolated courses for local teens to a revenue-generating residential program serving close to 600 teens recruited both nationally and internationally during her tenure.
Dr. Ward provided oversight on the development of a $10.2 million dollar renovation project, working closely with the Board of Trustees, advancement staff, donors, academic stakeholders, architects and construction contractors to develop plans for and permit a four-story center for visual and performing arts education. She also oversaw the remodel of the college's Main Gallery to create "The Collaboratory," a space reserved for students to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration.
In addition to physical changes to the Cornish College of the Arts campus, Dr. Ward created "Interface," a cross-departmental lecture and event series focused on interdisciplinary art practice; and initiated "Sustenance," a public lunchtime discussion series on topics in art. She worked with the human resources department to implement diversity initiatives in aspects of staff and faculty recruitment, new student orientation, faculty colloquium, campus event programming, and engaged with faculty and staff to co-develop the Citizen Artist Initiative—an "offshoot" of the Diversity Steering Committee. Dr. Ward successfully led the college's National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) re-accreditation process in 2008.
Dr. Ward was a faculty member at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota from 1995-2007, where she taught German. Her tenure culminated in serving as the chair of the Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department. She left her mark on the college through her modernization of the department, having led the successful effort to rename it from Modern Foreign Languages and establishing the all-college language requirement still in effect today. Additionally, she established a new tenure line for the Transatlantic Studies in Spanish section, and was the driving force behind the conception and development of the residential “Crossroads International House” that she went on to serve as its resident director.
Dr. Ward previously held professorships at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
In 2010, Dr. Ward co-edited the book, “Reworking the German Past: Adaptation in Film, the Arts, and Popular Culture,” and has a long list of essays and book chapters in publication. She has presented papers and organized several sessions at conferences spanning the last three decades, and has been an invited speaker for dozens of events over the same time period.
A distinguished scholar, Dr. Ward earned her Ph.D. in Germanic languages and literatures from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and received her Bachelor of Arts with distinction from Hendrix College in her hometown of Conway, Arkansas. She also completed a certificate program, “The Principles and Techniques of Fundraising,” from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“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