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Davidson College introduces Emory dean Douglas Hicks as its 19th president

Douglas Hicks has been named Davidson College's 19th president.
David Cannon Photography Inc.
Douglas Hicks has been named Davidson College's 19th president.

Davidson College has named religious scholar Douglas Hicks as its 19th president.

Hicks is a 1990 graduate of Davidson College. He has been dean of Oxford College of Emory University since 2016.

In Friday's introductory speech, Hicks said he’s committed to making Davidson more diverse and affordable, and to honoring the enslaved people who helped build the college.

"Davidson will continue to be a dynamic institution, widening the Davidson circle by race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identities, religious identities, physical ability and disability and many other ways," he said.

Hicks said that requires more than getting people on campus: "It is also about creating a sense of actual belonging."

"This commitment to realizing the conditions for belonging, for moral equality, fuels the work that I do," he said. "Scholarship around religious diversity, leadership for the common good, and economic justice and wellbeing."

Hicks said he’s taking office amid a long list of challenges, such as the rising cost of higher education, skepticism about the value of a liberal arts education, and political polarization.

"It would be easy to say, 'Why do we do this in higher ed?' or 'Why would someone lead in this context? That’s quite a list,' " he said. "But it leads me to say we at Davidson not only will face these problems. We will train students and we will equip and support the faculty to solve them."

Hicks starts Aug. 1. He succeeds Carol Quillen, who announced in August that she would be stepping down after 11 years as president.

Davidson was founded as a Presbyterian college. Board chair Allison Hall Mauzé says this is the first search since it dropped a requirement that the president be Christian. She said the 250 applicants for the job represented the most expansive and inclusive field in the college’s history.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.