(NEWS RELEASE FROM North Greenville University)
Tigerville, S. C. – (Feb. 23, 2017) The Board of Trustees of North Greenville University has elected Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., to serve as its next president.
“The Presidential Search Committee undertook a nationwide search with the assistance of the team of Price Harding, III, a partner and founder of CarterBaldwin Executive Search of Atlanta, Ga., a search firm with wide experience in higher education and especially in Christian higher education,” said Bill Tyler, Chairman of NGU’s Board of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee. “We evaluated nominations and applications from over 60 qualified candidates. In the end, it was about the candidate that would be the right fit for North Greenville and its mission.”
Fant, 53, has a long record of leadership in Christian higher education, most recently at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Lisa and I are profoundly humbled,” Fant said, “to be invited by the Board of Trustees to serve alongside this marvelous faculty and staff in this Kingdom work. North Greenville’s Christ-honoring heritage has impacted our region and indeed the world since its beginning, and I look forward to leading the university as we follow God’s calling on our shared lives.”
Fant noted that he was attracted to the position by NGU’s history of producing transformational leaders for church and society.
“Throughout my career, everywhere I go, I run into people whose lives have been touched by NGU and its alumni, students, faculty, coaches, and staff. I hope to build on that solid foundation of influence and extend it into new areas,” said Fant.
Fant will complete the spring semester in his current role as the Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Palm Beach Atlantic University, assuming his duties at NGU on June 1.
Fant has left his mark on Palm Beach Atlantic University. He has led the campus in a renewed commitment to its Christ-first mission, joining unapologetically Christian dedication to unflinching academic excellence. About a dozen new academic programs have been launched in healthcare, business, and science, and he was instrumental in the launch of the Titus Center for Franchising, which benefits from a $1.5 million startup gift.
He is a builder of both people and programs. As Provost and Chief Academic Officer of PBA, Fant has been an innovative academic architect, an elite and insightful talent scout, a strategic thinker, a resourceful idea generator, a passionate advocate of intellectual discipleship, a significant sculptor of the PBA experience, but most importantly, an extraordinary Christian scholar and Christ-follower. He understands the transformational nature of Christ-first higher education. At all times, he remains student-focused and faculty-friendly, with a keen understanding of the importance of both the liberal arts and professional studies. Additionally, he is known as one of the best storytellers.
“The Palm Beach Atlantic University community applauds Gene’s selection as president and will continue to pray for him and Lisa as they lead NGU onward and bring an inexpressible joy to their new University family,” said PBA President William M. B. Fleming, Jr.
Prior to his time at PBA, Fant served at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, from 2002-2014, holding a variety of positions before assuming the role of the Executive Vice President for Academic Administration under then-President David S. Dockery. At Union, he led in the implementation of numerous academic programs, and coordinated the academic transition of the university’s athletics program from NAIA membership to NCAA Division II, and was involved in the rebuilding of the campus following the devastating tornado that struck the campus in 2008.
“What a joy to learn that Gene Fant has been nominated to serve as the next president of North Greenville University. I have been truly blessed and privileged to know him for a number of years and to learn from him as an insightful leader and thoughtful educator. Moreover, he is a faithful Christ-follower, an ambassador for Christ-centered higher education, a reflective Christian thinker, and a churchman of the first order,” said David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Union University President Emeritus. “I am confident that the Board, administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of North Greenville will soon share my excitement about their gifted new president. I am genuinely delighted for Gene and Lisa as well as for the North Greenville community, and I truly believe that good and blessed days are ahead for one and all.”
Since 2004, Fant has also been deeply involved in the Impact 360 Institute, a year-long gap year program in biblical worldview and leadership development. Impact 360 Institute was launched by John and Trudy Cathy White; Trudy is the daughter of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. In addition to being one of the program’s original curriculum designers, Fant serves on the Board of Directors.
“Gene Fant believed in the mission of Impact 360 long before other Christian educators, and he was instrumental in helping us bring other higher education professionals to appreciate the value of a gap year between high school and college,” says executive director of Chick-fil-A’s Life Shape Foundation Larry Cox. “He is the type of leader who will motivate the young men and women of North Greenville University to think Christianly about their lives and how God can use them to integrate faith, learning, and living.”
Deeply committed to the Christian intellectual tradition, Fant holds five earned academic degrees, including the Ph.D. in English and the M. Div. in biblical languages; he also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He was the third generation of his family to graduate from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A prolific author and speaker, Fant’s book The Liberal Arts: A Student’s Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition) (Crossway 2012) is used as a text for both university courses and faculty development. With his wife Lisa, he co-authored Expectant Moments: Devotions for Expectant Couples (Zondervan 1999), a best-selling devotional memoir. His essays have appeared in Baptist Press and many newspapers; he was a contributing blogger at both The Chronicle of Higher Education and First Things.
Fant’s father, Gene Sr., is a retired Baptist pastor, who served as a church planter in New York and pastored in Mississippi, California, Virginia, and Tennessee. His mother, Mona Faith Fant, is a syndicated radio show host and singer-songwriter.
Lisa, also an educator, is a native of Virginia, where they met while teaching school. They have been married since 1989 and have twin children, Ethan and Emily, who are both students at Impact 360 Institute; the twins just returned from a month-long mission trip.
Chairman Tyler says “This is an historic time in the life of North Greenville. In 1991, it was about survival. Today, it is about taking a Christ-centered institution with a very strong foundation and moving it into the future in order to equip students to go into the world and impact the kingdom by having a strong biblical worldview no matter what their educational discipline may be. We are not looking back, we are moving forward.”