Katherine Daniel, Editor in Chief~
Dr. Kenneth R. Garren will retire as president of the University of Lynchburg in 2020, the University announced on August 31. At that point, he will have led the institution for nineteen years. He informed Nathaniel Marshall, who is the chair of the University of Lynchburg Board of Trustees, earlier in the month of August that he will not seek to extend his contract past its current date of June 30, 2020.
Dr. Garren became president of Lynchburg College in 2001 after a career that included work at NASA, teaching mathematics and serving as Dean at Roanoke College, his alma mater.
President Garren said, “Being at Lynchburg College has allowed me to work with some very creative, enthusiastic people. It has allowed me to work with the alums who have achieved some really important things in their lives by doing the things that work for this institution and that are important for this institution. It has given me entry into places that I would have never imagined that I would ever go and get me into an elected position. I am in an organization called NICU, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. I am on the board of the organization and I was put there through an election in which they are looking for three presidents that represent an entire region of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. They ran me against a president from a Florida institution and when It came down to the resumes and at the bottom of mine, where it referred to the Wall Street Journal front page article from November of 2015, that was what got me elected into the position.”
Garren has learned a lot throughout his life. “I have had an opportunity to start at the bottom of everything that I have ever been engaged in and involved in. I was probably the shyest person that was in high school and in college, but also having three ladders that I ended up able to take steps on.” Garren’s three ladders are higher education, martial arts, and military. Among those three things in his ladder, he has learned a lot from them and they have all impacted his life.
One of the people he has always looked up to is his older brother, Johnny Garren. They both went to high school in Richmond, VA, and they both majored in Math and Physics. President Garren said, “He made the path for me for the rest of the days of my life. Having that kind of a brother who broke the trail for me and made me understand when he got his scholarship and what he did, there is a way out of poverty and it is going to be through education.”
His wife also was a reason to come to Lynchburg. “When I was in Roanoke and I came back before I started my junior year of college, I did not make it back in time to try out for the football team. I decided to get on a bus for a football game between William Fleming High School in EC Glass High School. On the way back, the cheerleaders had over sold the seats and they were standing in the aisles. I realized there was a cheerleader standing beside me in the aisle. So, I had this guy move over and I invited this little cheerleader to sit down beside me. When we got back to the school grounds and her boyfriend was not there to pick her up, I took her home. It ends up now, as of September 2, 57 years later with three children and eight grandchildren, I met my wife just from buying a bus ticket. The thing is, coming up and meeting her on a trip to Lynchburg and where is the final settling point, is my dream come true to be in a job like this and it is in Lynchburg. It is like sometimes very small things in life are such a significance to you.”
When Garren was applying for the job as president for Lynchburg College, they had an application process and “he spent weeks putting together the answers to the questions that the search committee was looking for and he put his heart and soul in it.” Garren said, “I really thoroughly researched this institution and the people who were interviewing me. I knew who they were and what they were interested in. When I was selected to be one of two people, I wanted to come here because no matter what I knew what I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to be at Lynchburg College. They called and said I got the job and I was told by some people in the faculty that said, when ‘you talked it was like they knew what was inside of you.”
Garren has plans to travel and go see his grandchildren more often once he retires.