Dr. B. James Dawson


March 11, 2010 - Harrogate, Tennessee—The Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to appoint distinguished educator Dr. B. James Dawson as the University’s 20th president. Dawson’s term is effective immediately, following the Executive Committee of the Board’s acceptance of Dawson’s contract earlier today. The board also recognized Interim President C. Warren Neel’s 11 months of service at that time.

“LMU is very fortunate to have Dr. Dawson as the 20th President of Lincoln Memorial University,” said Dr. Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk, chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees. “His distinguished service as president of two great private universities and his knowledge and experience will add immensely to the continuing efforts to improve the quality of academic offerings.”

Dawson joined the administration at LMU in August 2009 in a newly created position of chief operating officer and chancellor of the main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. His role at that time was to be the top administrator at the University’s main campus while Neel spent the majority of his time focused on LMU’s presidential search.

“Dr. Warren Neel has really stepped up to fill a big need at LMU. His knowledge of academic and university structure has allowed LMU to strengthen its position in higher education over the past 11 months,” DeBusk said. “He has truly been an inspiration and positive leader for LMU. His leadership allowed the University to continue to grow and expand despite the transitional state of the administration and we are certainly grateful and appreciate his guidance and leadership.”

Dawson came to LMU after retiring from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., where he served as president for seven years. With Dawson at the helm, Coker College successfully completed a $23 million capital campaign. This fundraising effort enabled the college to make significant investments in the campus community, including the construction of the 40,000-square foot, $6.5 million Charles W. and Joan S. Coker Library-Information Technology Center. Several millions of dollars also went to improving academic programs, residence halls and campus landscaping. Coker College also experienced considerable enrollment growth during Dawson’s presidency. Dawson served his first presidency at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tenn., where he served from 1995 until 2002.

“Lincoln Memorial University has enjoyed phenomenal growth in programs and stature over the past decade. It was my distinct pleasure to join this academic community as chief operating officer and I look forward to the challenges this presidency presents,” Dawson said. “It has been exciting to meet and get to know the fine faculty and staff of the University. I look forward to leading LMU as it continues the trajectory of steady growth while continuing to fulfill its mission of serving the underserved of Appalachia.”

LMU is in its ninth consecutive year of record enrollment. Fall census figures showed a 17 percent increase with a total of 3,949 students at its main campus in Harrogate, Tenn., and 13 extended site locations. Since 2003, LMU’s enrollment has increased 56 percent. The University has expanded from its liberal arts core and now offers advanced professional degrees in osteopathic medicine, law, business, nursing and education. LMU students run the gamut, from first-generation college students to working professionals seeking to complete their degree to professional students pursuing their doctorates.

A native Hoosier, Dawson earned a B.A. and a M.A. at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., and began his academic career at his alma mater where he started as an admissions counselor. While still working at the University of Evansville, he received his doctorate in administration of higher education from Indiana University. During his tenure at the University of Evansville, Dawson held a variety of administrative positions culminating with a Vice President post.

In 1988 he moved on to Fort Hays State University where he served as the Vice President for Student and Institution Development. He was responsible for development, alumni relations, public relations and governmental relations at the institution, which is part of the Kansas Regents system.

Dawson gained national recognition for his contributions to the field of alcohol and drug abuse prevention. As a member of the Presidents Leadership Group, he joined five other college and university presidents in a concerted effort to involve the leadership of institutions of higher education in the fight against irresponsible and illegal use of drugs and alcohol. He also serves on the national board for BACCHUS and Gamma. The BACCHUS Network is a university and community based network focusing on comprehensive health and safety initiatives.

He is a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International and completed the CASE institute for Advancement at Dartmouth University. Dawson and his wife, Karen, have two children and three grandchildren.

Dawson’s inauguration will take place during the University’s 2010 Homecoming festivities, which are set to take place October 14-16.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at

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