Darrell F. Parker, dean of Western Carolina University’s College of Business since July 1, 2012, will be stepping down from the leadership position at the end of the fall semester to become president of Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina.
Parker was introduced to the Limestone College community during a press conference Wednesday, Dec. 6. His appointment follows a seven-month national search to identify a successor for current President Walt Griffin, who has led that institution since 1992 and who announced earlier this year that he would be retiring at the end of the fall semester. Parker is expected to officially take office as Limestone’s 22nd president on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
By naming Parker as its next CEO, Limestone has selected a leader who, throughout his academic career, has demonstrated the value of linking institutions of higher education with the external community to foster regional economic development efforts, said WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar.
“During Dr. Parker’s tenure at WCU, the College of Business has expanded regional partnerships with corporations including Mission Health System, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Borg Warner,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “He established a college-led limited liability company designed to provide entrepreneurial business, scientific and technical services to help spur economic development activity in Western North Carolina.”
Under Parker’s leadership, student enrollment in the College of Business has doubled, she said, and he also helped arrange a $1 million gift from the Dixon Hughes Goodman firm that resulted in the naming of WCU’s accountancy program in recognition of the company’s contributions.
Morrison-Shetlar said she plans to meet with the College of Business faculty and staff in the next few days to ensure a transparent process for naming an interim dean and launching a search for a permanent dean of the WCU College of Business.
Limestone College’s search for its next president began in April with the formation of a 13-member presidential search committee, led by David Riggins, vice chair of the college’s board of trustees. “From the beginning, we were confident we would find a motivated, enthusiastic leader to build upon Limestone’s legacy,” Riggins said. “We were seeking a president who could build upon Dr. Griffin’s achievements and lead us to an even brighter future. We firmly believe we have found that person in Dr. Darrell Parker.”
Before joining WCU, Parker was dean and professor of economics in the Johnson College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg.
A native of Buncombe County, Parker graduated from North Buncombe High School and received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville before going on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Purdue University.
Prior to becoming dean at USC Upstate in 2006, Parker held the William Freeman Distinguished Chair of Free Enterprise and served as director of the School of Economic Development at Georgia Southern University.
He previously was a professor of economics at Winthrop University, where he was named Winthrop University Distinguished Professor in 1999; awarded the First Union Excellence in Teaching prize in 1991; and received the 1988-89 Phi Kappa Phi award for Excellence in Teaching. From 1990 until 2001, he served as director of the Winthrop Economic Development Center, which he founded. His areas of specialization include general economics and business, regulatory economics, labor economics, public economics and international business.
The College of Business at WCU, which is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, has more than 54 full-time faculty members and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 17 disciplines at the main campus in Cullowhee and in Asheville at Biltmore Park, as well as online. The college also is home to the Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise.
For more information about WCU’s College of Business, visit the website cob.wcu.edu.