Fall semester will bring a new provost and several fresh faces in deans’ offices


Angela Laird Brenton, dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has been appointed provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Western Carolina University, effective Aug. 1, one of several recent leadership changes in the academic arena. The selection of Brenton, dean at UALR since 2001, concludes a national search by a 16-member campus committee to fill a vacancy created by the departure of Kyle R. Carter, who was named chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in April 2010.

Angela L. Brenton, WCU’s new provost, speaks to faculty and staff in the Blue Ridge meeting room during her campus interview.

“Angi Brenton’s long history and vast experience in higher education leadership roles and her remarkable skill set make her a perfect fit for Western Carolina University, especially within the context of the vision that is evolving for the institution through our strategic planning process,” WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher said in announcing the appointment. “Angi is one of the most passionate people I know in terms of the importance of a university focus on engagement with the external community. She is a strong advocate for the academic affairs of her institution, and she is one of the best communicators I have ever met in my life. She is a respected member of her community, and she is loved and adored by her faculty and staff.”

The selection of Brenton represents a reunion of sorts, as Belcher served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UALR prior to his appointment as Western Carolina chancellor last year.

In another leadership change, Darrell Franklin Parker, dean and professor of economics in the Johnson College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., is the next dean of the College of Business at WCU. Parker is filling a vacancy created by the departure of Ronald A. Johnson, who stepped down from the position in 2010. The appointment is effective July 1.

A native of Buncombe County, Parker is no stranger to Western North Carolina. He grew up in Weaverville and graduated from North Buncombe High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville before going on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Purdue University.

He also is no stranger to WCU’s increasing emphasis on community engagement and partnership, said Beth Tyson Lofquist ’78 MAEd ’79 EdS ’88, interim provost. “Among Darrell Parker’s strengths are his understanding of the importance of connections with the external community and his ability to make and solidify those connections,” Lofquist said. “He also has a proven track record of excellence in teaching as well as outstanding internal communication skills and leadership, both within the college that he leads and across the entire campus.”

Lofquist also announced several additional interim dean appointments.

Dale Carpenter, professor of special education, will serve as interim dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions. Carpenter, a member of the WCU faculty since 1979, is filling a vacancy created by the departure of Perry Schoon, who will become dean of the College of Education at Illinois State University, Schoon’s alma mater.

Mimi Fenton, professor of English, will serve as interim dean of the Graduate School and Research. A member of the WCU faculty since 1992, Fenton will guide WCU’s graduate programs and research activities upon the retirement of Scott Higgins, who is stepping down in June after 31 years, including the past seven as dean.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, Richard Starnes ’92 MA ’94, associate professor and head of the Department of History, has agreed to the role of interim dean. Starnes will take over from Gibbs Knotts, professor of political science and public affairs, who will become head of the political science program at the College of Charleston.