- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

PINEVILLE, La. (AP) - Louisiana College has chosen an official from a South Carolina institution as its new president.

Rick Brewer is vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston Southern University. The Town Talk reports (https://townta.lk/1aO1uHi) that Brewer will become the school’s ninth president on April 7.

The Board of Trustees of the private Baptist school in Pineville voted unanimously Thursday to select Brewer as the new leader, giving him a five-year contract.

Louisiana College has been seeking a president since April 16, when the board voted to approve an agreement that removed Joe Aguillard as president effective May 31. That ended two years of controversy and turmoil on campus.

Aguillard is on sabbatical this academic year and will return to the college in the fall as a tenured professor.

Brewer believes the need for healing at the school started at what was called a “very harmonious” meeting of the Louisiana College board.

“It has begun today with the unanimous vote,” he said. “That was a statement. We believe God brought the right man at such a time as this. … We’re going to learn from the past, but not dwell there.”

Brewer, 58, said changing the “image and messaging” of the school is important in reaching all stakeholders, whom he challenges to “leave the past in the rear-view mirror.”

He committed to listening to all constituents, both inside and outside of the college, for input when it comes to strategic planning.

“A lot of people out there are pulling for Louisiana College,” he said. “They want to see it succeed - the business community, education community, church community.”

That translates into support through partnerships as well as fundraising, which would be used to improve the campus, programs and scholarships. He plans to build a donor program to fund scholarships to help close affordability gaps for students.

“My No. 1 job is going to be raising the profile and raising the revenue of this school,” he said.

Brewer has been at Charleston for 28 years, serving as director for external relations, assistant to the president and interim director of athletics and holding vice presidential roles for planning, student affairs and athletics. He has been a member of the president’s cabinet at the school since 1989.

During his tenure there, he helped to double enrollment from 1,600 to more than 3,400 students, increase unrestricted giving and endowment support and improve freshman retention from 50 to 78 percent, according to a Louisiana College statement. He also has served as an evaluator for the accrediting body the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the NCAA.

His SACS experience will be of use moving forward with Louisiana College’s process toward re-accreditation. The school was placed on probation in June, six months after the agency reaffirmed its accreditation. The college had been on warning with SACS for two years prior.

“Let’s get off probation and get re-accredited,” Brewer said. “The school deserves it. We’re going to do all we can - and do all they (SACS) ask us to - to be successful.”

Brewer will meet with the accrediting body’s visiting team on campus this month.

Brewer is a native of New Orleans but was raised in North Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policies from the University of South Carolina, a master’s in business administration, bachelor of science in history from Charleston Southern University, where he has taught and held administrative roles for 28 years, and several certificates.

He also is an ordained Baptist minister and completed the South Carolina Baptist Convention transitional pastor training in 2012.

Tommy French, chairman of the LC board and its Executive Committee that served as presidential search committee, said the board was “convinced” Brewer was the man for the job from the time members read his resume.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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