JACKSON – The Board of Trustees of Millsaps College announced on Thursday, February 11, 2010, that it has unanimously elected a constitutional law scholar with over two decades of leadership in higher education to serve as the 11th president of the college.
Robert W. Pearigen, Ph.D., currently vice president for university relations and professor of political science at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., will assume office on July 1. He succeeds Dr. Frances Lucas who concludes her term this summer after 10 years as president.
“After conducting a thorough national search, I am confident that we have found the right person to lead Millsaps College as we continue to be recognized as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges,” said Tom Fowlkes, Millsaps College Board of Trustee member and chairman of the presidential search committee. “Dr. Pearigen is a powerful intellectual force and a dynamic leader with a broad range of experience in higher education.”
Pearigen is a 1976 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Sewanee and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science at Duke University. Following academic appointments at Virginia Tech and Hillsdale College, he returned to Sewanee in 1987 as dean of students and a member of the political science department.
As dean, Pearigen reorganized and oversaw the student affairs division, served on various University committees including the admissions, scholarship, and athletic advisory committees, played a leading role in the design and construction of several buildings on campus, and was a leader in the campus fraternity and sorority restoration project. In recognition of his commitment to the academic and social well-being of students and the meaningful relationships he helped foster in the university community, the “Pearigen Award for Commitment to Community” was created at Sewanee in 2006.
“This year Millsaps is celebrating 120 years of excellence in higher education. As we reflect on our heritage, we look forward with great anticipation because of Dr. Pearigen’s ambition for Millsaps College and the students we serve,” said Maurice Hall, chairman of the Millsaps College Board of Trustees. “We are confident Rob Pearigen will lead Millsaps College to an even greater future as we fulfill our mission of cultivating principled leaders and accomplished citizens for Mississippi and the nation.”
Millsaps College is currently conducting a $160 million capital campaign and is in the initial stages of its next strategic plan. In his capacity as vice president for university relations at Sewanee, Pearigen has served as the university’s chief development officer. In 2005, he was asked to assume leadership of the university’s $180 million capital campaign. Over the next three years, the campaign met and exceeded its goal, raising $206 million for the endowment, capital projects and operating funds. As a member of the senior administrative team, he serves on key university committees including the strategic planning committee and the campus master plan committee.
“It’s a distinct privilege to become part of Millsaps College. Millsaps has a history of bold and courageous leadership in higher education, and today it is known as an exemplar of liberal arts as preparation for life. Millsaps makes a difference in the lives of students who grow to become critical thinkers and leaders throughout the country. The college’s stellar academic environment, provided by nationally acclaimed faculty and outstanding support staff, combines with the gifts of its students to create an ideal liberal arts college experience,” Pearigen said.
Pearigen is married to Phoebe Stone Pearigen. Mrs. Pearigen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and Southern Methodist University where she received her master’s of fine arts degree. She is an instructor in the Theatre Arts Department at Sewanee and the founder and director of the Sewanee Dance Conservatory. The Pearigens have two children, Carolyn, age 17, and Wesley, age 14.
“Phoebe and I are very excited about joining the Millsaps and Jackson communities and serving the students, faculty, staff and alumni of this outstanding institution,” Pearigen said.