Anderson celebrates 20th anniversary of President Whitaker’s tenure

Anderson University marked the 20-year tenure of President Evans P. Whitaker and First Lady Diane Whitaker during the university’s annual Founders Day Convocation, Feb. 22, as faculty, staff, students and friends of the university celebrated the Whitakers’ two decades of service and leadership.

Evans Whitaker

To mark the occasion, Whitaker received the Order of the Palmetto from the State of South Carolina, the state’s highest civilian honor.

In addition, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan offered remarks for the Congressional Record as part of the 118th Congress in celebration of the Whitakers’ 20 years of leadership to Anderson University. Finally, the South Carolina General Assembly this month adopted resolutions sponsored by Rep. Mark Willis (Dist. 16/Greenville and Laurens counties) and Rep. Anne Thayer (Dist. 9/Anderson County), also in honor of the Whitakers.

 “Dr. Whitaker is an amazing leader. He dreams big and brings those dreams to fruition — and he’s got a team of supportive people around him,” said Mary Anne Bunton, chair of Anderson University’s Board of Trust. “He is a true visionary.”

Whitaker is the 12th president of Anderson University, having assumed the post in November 2002.

When the Whitakers arrived, roughly 1,600 students attended the private Christian institution in Anderson, S.C. Today, more than 4,200 are enrolled, making Anderson University the state’s largest private university and, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the 16th fastest growing regional university in the U.S. over the last decade. In addition to growth in numbers, Anderson’s academic selectivity and reputation have appreciated to the extent that, according to the Princeton Review, Anderson is among the top six more academically selective universities (public and private) in South Carolina.

Under Whitaker’s leadership, more than $100 million has been invested in campus facilities, including a 90,000-square-foot student center, a 60,000-square-foot library, five residence halls, a cancer research center, a student business incubator, a Homeland Security academic facility, a health professions graduate center within the Greenville University Center, and numerous athletic facilities. Campus acreage has quadrupled from 68 in 2002 to more than 400 today. Anderson University manages and is a major partner in creating the Rocky River Conservancy, a 200-acre wetlands and wildlife preserve near the campus.

Anderson is among U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Regional Universities South,” and is on the publication’s “Best Value,” “Best Undergraduate Teaching,” “Best First-Year Experience” and “Best Online Programs” lists. Anderson also is ranked #25 nationally for Student Engagement by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education; is a “Best College” among institutions of higher learning in the southeast by The Princeton Review; is a four-time Apple Distinguished School; and is on the honor roll of the prestigious Great Colleges to Work For program.

Whitaker also serves as professor of management, leadership and organizations. His wife, Diane, an accomplished musician and vocalist who has toured worldwide, is an admissions counselor at Anderson and serves on the boards of GAMAC, the Salvation Army and the United Way.