Meet Lynn M. Morton, Eighth President of Warren Wilson College

Dr. Lynn M. Morton is the eighth person and the first woman to hold the title of president at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. She takes on her new role in July after more than 25 years at Queens University of Charlotte, where she serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Photo: Reggie Tidwell/Warren Wilson College

Coed college started by women elects its first female president.

Dr. Lynn M. Morton, who earned her Ph.D. in Renaissance literature from the University of South Carolina, was recently appointed to be the eighth president of Warren Wilson College, succeeding Dr. Steven L. Solnick, who will become the new head of school at the Calhoun School in New York City.

Dr. Morton is the eighth person and first woman to lead the school, which was founded as the Presbyterian Farm School in 1894. Though the school was begun by women to serve Appalachian boys and has been coed since 1942, it has never had a woman as president.

Morton spent more than 25 years at Queens University of Charlotte, where she began as a part-time instructor and worked her way up to provost and vice president for academic affairs. As she anticipated the possibility of becoming a college president, she was firm in her desire to serve a college that had the right mission and vision.

“I happened to look at the Warren Wilson College website on the exact day the search firm was announced to find the next president,” said Morton. “It was incredible. From that moment, I wanted this presidency and resolved to do my very best to show what a good fit this would be for both the College and me.”

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,” said 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 the presidency. Plus, she genuinely wants to be part of this College.”

During her campus interview, Morton took time to explore Warren Wilson College’s distinct educational model, which enhances the liberal arts curriculum with applied learning through on-campus work and community engagement. She visited the College’s 600-acre forest and 200-acre farm and quickly realized how integral each aspect is to the others.

“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. [The college] has intentionally integrated all three aspects of its educational model—academics, work and community engagement. Each aspect provides a rich experience in its own right, but it is the integration that is truly visionary,” Morton said.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to be the first female president. 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,” she added.

Hoping to bring more of Asheville’s residents to the college, Morton will work to build more connections between academic programs and the city, starting with a strong emphasis on the liberal arts.

“It’s natural that we would go in that direction. Warren Wilson College and Asheville share many of the same qualities, and I think we can all benefit from working together a little more often,” Morton acknowledged.

Janelle Holmboe, vice president for enrollment and marketing and a member of the presidential search committee, noted that “[Dr. Morton’s] experience, shared values, student-centered approach to leadership and future-looking perspective aligns exactly with what we needed. Dr. Morton was unflappable throughout the interview process, thoughtful in her responses and clearly knowledgeable about our community. Her genuine respect for our students, staff and faculty, combined with her higher education experience, told us that she was the right person at the right moment for this next chapter of Warren Wilson College.”

Dr. Morton, a North Carolina native, earned undergraduate and masters degrees from UNC-Greensboro and the University of Nevada at Reno, She and her husband, Ric, are the parents of three adult children.

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