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Coed College Started by Women Elects Its First Female President

ASHEVILLE, NC – In the Swannanoa Valley just outside of Asheville recently, a 123-year-old institution took a historic step in choosing its next leader. Lynn M. Morton, Ph.D., not only became the eighth person to hold the title of president, but she is also the first woman. For a school started by women for Appalachian boys in 1894 that has been coed since 1942, the remarkable move is less about history and more about the leader taking the helm in July.

Morton is an accomplished academic who spent more than 25 years at Queens University of Charlotte. In that time, she rose from a part-time instructor to provost and vice president for academic affairs.

According to Bill Christy, chairman of the Warren Wilson College Board of Trustees, Morton stood out in the search process.

“We were looking for someone who had a high emotional quotient and would be able to understand the unique qualities of the Warren Wilson College community,” says Christy. “Lynn’s warmth, clarity of vision, experience in academia and ability to communicate clearly and effectively with diverse constituencies made her an obvious choice for president. Plus, she genuinely wants to be part of this College.”

Morton believes her appointment as president sends a strong signal about the college’s priorities.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to be the first female president,” Morton says. “The fact that Warren Wilson College has chosen a female leader says something very positive about the community. It speaks directly to the college’s awareness of roles that women can play in leadership positions.”

Warren Wilson College’s educational model features a liberal arts academic curriculum enhanced by applied learning through on-campus work and community engagement. Morton says she can see the entire model evolving in front of her eyes.

“Warren Wilson College truly has the extended classroom — places outside of the academic buildings that provide hands-on opportunities to learn, including in the larger valley and mountain communities. That’s what most institutions are trying to create as high-impact student experiences. Warren Wilson has intentionally integrated all three aspects of its educational model – academics, work and community engagement — and, therefore, is far ahead of most others in this regard. Each aspect provides a rich experience in its own right, but it is the integration that is truly visionary,” Morton adds.

The incoming president looks forward to working with leaders in Asheville to build more connections between academic programs and the city, starting with a strong emphasis on the liberal arts.

Lynn M. Morton succeeds Steven L. Solnick, who will lead the Calhoun School in New York. She holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of Nevada at Reno and the University of South Carolina, which is where she earned her Ph.D. in Renaissance literature. Morton is a native North Carolinian, and she has three adult children with her husband, Ric.

About Warren Wilson College
Recognized for dedication to inclusivity by the Princeton Review — No. 3 “most LGBTQ-friendly” in the nation and No. 13 “most engaged in community service” — Warren Wilson College is a Fiske Guide “best buy” and among College Magazine’s “top 10 greenest campuses.” Undergraduates represent 40 states and 11 countries, and the college contributes more than 55,000 hours to the community through collaborations with 257 service partners. With sought-after majors in environmental studies, creative writing, global studies and outdoor leadership, Warren Wilson College is a community of scholars producing graduates ready to change the world.

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