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University of Redlands names Krista L. Newkirk as its next President

The University of Redlands Board of Trustees announced today that Krista L. Newkirk, J.D., will serve as the 12th president of the University of Redlands. Newkirk, who will be the first female president of the U of R, is currently president of Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She will join the University of Redlands in July.

Krista L. Newkirk is the first female president at the University of Redlands“We had many qualified candidates from across the country come forward with interest in this position,” said U of R Chairman of the Board Leland C. Launer, Jr. “Throughout the process, we remained dedicated to identifying the best individual to lead our University into the future. As a candidate, Krista stood out due to her range of experience in colleges and universities, large and small; successes as the head of an institution of higher education; and passion for making connections within our community.”

U of R Presidential Search Committee Chair and First Vice Chair of the Board Larry Burgess added, “We are delighted to welcome Krista to Redlands and excited for the potential she brings to the next chapter of the University’s history. Based on her outstanding track record of consensus-building, problem-solving, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, she was the top candidate of our 21-person search committee and received a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees.”

Newkirk succeeds Ralph W. Kuncl, who notified the community last fall he will retire from his current role on June 30, after nine years at the helm of the U of R during a period that saw the development of a train station for the new Arrow line on the main Redlands campus, the addition of a school and campus in Northern California through a merger with San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the near completion of a $200 million fundraising campaign called Forever Yours. The President’s Cabinet will run the University in the brief interim period between presidents.

Newkirk will hit the ground running upon arrival at the University in July. In addition to getting to know members of the Redlands community, her first priorities include launching a new strategic planning process to follow the University’s successful North Star 2020.

“I am excited to be joining the University of Redlands,” she said. “This is an especially important time in the history of the University. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with the dedicated and talented faculty, staff, trustees, students, and alumni, as well as reaching out to community members and businesses. As we continue to reassess what the higher education landscape will look like following the pandemic, this is our opportunity to create together a bright future.”

During her tenure as president of Converse College, Newkirk successfully completed the 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation; led the development of an innovative strategic plan and added new academic programs, including healthcare administration and data analytics; opened the college’s first extension instructional site; initiated the development and implementation of a diversity and inclusion strategic plan that included a restorative justice model for student disciplinary actions; and established a professional credentialing program in consultation with local and regional business leadership.

Most recently, Newkirk led Converse through a thoughtful, research-driven, transparent, and collaborative process, which ultimately resulted in the transformation of the female-only institution into a coeducational undergraduate college, with a new name, Converse University, effective July 1. Other accomplishments include: launching the institution’s first doctoral degree program; expanding its master’s degree offerings; initiating a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the institution’s enrollment of African American students; expanding women’s athletics to include teams for field hockey and for acrobatics and tumbling, and, with the decision to go coeducational, adding five new men’s athletic teams and a coed esports team; and reaching record levels of Annual Fund giving and other fundraising.

Prior to Converse, Newkirk spent 13 years at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, first in the Office of Legal Affairs, then as chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor. Before her time in higher education, Newkirk worked for several years as an attorney in both private practice and at a Fortune 300 company. Newkirk holds a J.D. from the College of William & Mary Law School. She is a graduate of University of Nebraska, where she majored in English and minored in philosophy.

She was recently selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and she is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Active on the boards of a number of South Carolina and Spartanburg organizations, she was honored as one of the 50 Most Influential People and one of 25 Women of Influence in the Upstate of South Carolina in 2020 and was named a Woman of Achievement by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in 2018.

Newkirk spent her formative years on a cattle ranch in Missouri. She is married to W. Lewis Glenn III, and they are proud parents to sons Conrad and Holden. The family dogs, Cookie and Sasha, are also active members of the Newkirk family.