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Jeff Frederick is a scholar with experience in higher education and business administration.
provided by Drury University
Jeff Frederick is a scholar with experience in higher education and business administration.

Drury names new president 

Jeff Frederick brings nearly two decades in academia to the role

Posted online

 Drury University named Jeff Frederick as its 19th president. 

Frederick, who currently serves as provost and executive vice president at Wingate University in North Carolina, brings more than two decades of business and academia experience to the role, according to a news release issued March 13. He’ll start June 1.

“As we reflect on our 150-year legacy, I cannot think of a better time to welcome Dr. Frederick as Drury’s next president,” said Rita Baron, chair of Drury’s Board of Trustees, in the release. “The board and I are confident that with his deep commitment to student-centric values and a wealth of experience in higher education, Dr. Frederick is the right person to build on Drury’s success and lead us into the next 150 years.” 

Frederick succeeds interim President John Beuerlein, who has been in the role following the March 2023 resignation of Tim Cloyd. Baron previously said family health concerns led to Cloyd’s departure. Beuerlein, a retired financial analyst and philanthropist, is a 1975 graduate of the university and previously served on its board of trustees, 1991-2011.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this remarkable institution that has given so much to me, my family and my career,” Beuerlein said in the release. “Drury holds a special place in my heart, and I am confident that Dr. Frederick will continue to uphold our cherished values.”

Baron said there were 87 applicants, and three finalists were brought to campus to interview for the role. She declined to name the other finalists.

“What could be more exciting than joining a team like Drury that is so focused on student success and personalized learning?” Frederick said in the release. “Drury University graduates engage in such meaningful lives in large part because of the dedication and expertise of the faculty and staff that prepare them for an unlimited future. I can’t wait to get connected on campus and in the community.” 

University spokesperson Jasmine Cooper said Frederick was not available for an interview by press time.

Drury’s Board of Trustees approved Frederick for the role following a search process that began in October 2023. The process was led by Drury’s 2023-24 14-member Presidental Search Advisory Committee, of which Baron was chair. 

In an interview following the announcement, Baron said the selection was a difficult decision.

“If I had room for three presidents, I would’ve hired the three of them,” she said. “We were so lucky.”

She said Frederick was selected from the finalists after in-person meetings with faculty, staff, trustees and students. She said his connection and commitment to Drury students set him apart.

“It was interesting how the students related to Jeff and how he interacted with students – it was the number one priority, it’s all about the students,” said Baron, a 1999 Drury graduate. “When I talk about Drury, it’s about the experience I had. It’s not about the degree; it’s the experience – and then what the experience gave me, that I was able to become successful.”

Undergraduate enrollment at Drury was down slightly in fall 2023 – 1,369 students compared with 1,386 students the year prior, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. University figures put total enrollment at 2,268 in the fall. Cooper said the university has 380 employees.

Frederick brings to the university 21 years of experience in higher education, including 17 years as faculty member, chair and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and four years at Wingate University as provost and executive vice president, according to the release. Frederick holds a doctorate in history from Auburn University and a master’s degree in history and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida.

As provost and executive vice president at Wingate, he is the chief academic officer and responsible for the operations, planning, strategy and execution of the academic mission. During his time in that role, university officials said he has improved retention, led and managed the COVID-19 academic and related response, played an active role in relationship building and fundraising, co-chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and developed several new academic programs.

Wingate is a private, liberal arts university with roughly 3,400 students across its three campuses in North Carolina, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs, according to its website. Enrollment has increased by 8% over the past five years, with undergraduate enrollment up 19% during that same period.

As a scholar and professor of history specializing on the relationship between politics and society, Frederick has published on topics including interest groups, Southern culture and identity, Southern governors during the civil rights era, the role of evangelicals in politics, Deep South party politics and NASCAR.

Frederick also has experience in private sector business administration, working for American Medical Electronics, Kendall Healthcare Products International and Motorola as an account executive, and Medical Resources Inc. as chief financial officer.

Baron said that experience was a bonus.

“You just want to make sure that you value the higher education and you do what it takes to make sure that you maintain that. The business side of it, I think it’s very important, too,” she said. “He had all the components.”

Coming off marking its sesquicentennial anniversary, Baron said the university is in a strong position.

“It’s very healthy,” she said. “We just celebrated our 150th – that was very important for all of us. How can we build on it and continue that momentum?”

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