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Newkirk inaugurated as president of Converse College

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For the past 128 years, Converse College has had just nine presidents. On Friday, Krista Newkirk became the 10th.

Newkirk, the former chief of staff at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has been the interim president of the college since former president Betsy Fleming stepped down on June 30, 2016 after 11 years with the college.

“As a highly respected and effective leader who is primed for even greater responsibility, Krista Newkirk is an ideal leader for Converse College,” said Ben Wall, chairman of the Converse College board of trustees upon Newkirk’s selection as the next president last year.

 Krista Newkirk was inaugurated as the 10th president of Converse College in Spartanburg Friday. Prior to joining Converse, she was the chief of staff at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (Photo/Provided)Newkirk was UNC Charlotte’s first chief of staff and its senior associate general counsel prior to that role. As chief of staff, Newkirk oversaw developed the university’s compliance and Title IX offices and completed a study to recommend a new division of Institutional Integrity for UNC Charlotte to include legal affairs, internal audit, compliance, enterprise risk management and Title IX.

“I look forward to working with the trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumnae, and members of the community to continue this work, finding new ways to strengthen Converse and to provide value for our students and alumnae,” Newkirk said, following her appointment. “Together, we will demonstrate that a liberal arts education is the foundation for society and for the workforce, regardless of sector”

As senior associate general counsel, Newkirk worked with UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor and its board of trustees, faculty and staff on various legal topics, complex litigation and serving as counsel for start-up non-profit corporations. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, Newkirk was an attorney in private practice and at a Fortune 300 company.

“Krista will be an outstanding president of Converse College,” said Philip Dubois, chancellor of UNC Charlotte, in a release at the time of Newkirk’s appointment. “She brings a wealth of administrative and legal experience to the job, having served for over eight years on our Legal Affairs staff and, more recently, for over four years as UNC Charlotte’s first chief of staff to the chancellor. She has defined that job from day one, taking on literally everything that was asked of her and then some.”

Newkirk earned a bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in philosophy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a juris doctor from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary. While at William & Mary, Newkirk was the editor-in-chief of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law.

“What a great choice Krista Newkirk is to lead my mother’s alma mater, Converse College,” said Erskine Bowles, former president of the University of North Carolina system and White House chief of staff, following Newkirk’s appointment. “She has a deep understanding of, and passion for, higher education, as well as the talent, experience, work ethic, and people skills to propel Converse forward.”

During her inaugural address, Newkirk said the day was about "our future in continuing to better serve as an educational experience that transforms young people and serves to better our community."

"It is with humility, joy and hope that I accept the leadership of this great college," Newkirk said. "I appreciate the trust of the board of trustees, teh faculty and staff, the alumnae and students, and the community."

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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