Dr. Larry Wilson’s tenure as Marietta College’s 16th President was not an easy one, but by the time he left in mid-2000, he had earned the respect and praise of this community.
When Dr. Wilson took office in 1995, one of his first tasks was to address the College’s plummeting enrollment figures—which dipped below 900 students. Another issue he faced was the disrepair of some of the College’s historic buildings. But Dr. Wilson’s Administration grabbed the College’s proverbial bootstraps and pulled them up with both hands in the five years he was at the helm.
"He took leadership of the College at a very difficult time," said then-Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees George Fenton in an interview with The Marietta Times in 1999. "…I think he made an extra effort to meet people, to be in contact with students and people in town. It was his overall character that helped improve relations at that time."
He had a great deal of experience working in higher education, particularly in leadership roles. After earning his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Kansas, he taught at Ohio Wesleyan University and later became Academic Dean and Provost before taking on the role as Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Dr. Wilson and his wife, Janie, were very active in the community. Janie Miller, who taught in the mass media department, served on various boards, including the Washington County Community Health Council and the Washington County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board.
His Administration worked to improve retention rates among students and, by the time he left Marietta, enrollment hovered around 1,200 students.
In 1997, Marietta began its seven-year $45 million Capital Campaign to help reshape the campus. By the spring of 2003, the campaign goal had been surpassed, reaching more than $65 million.
After announcing his pending retirement in October 1999, Dr. Wilson faced another major challenge—Y2K. His Administration worked to secure the technology at the College to protect information and computing systems at Marietta, which made the turn of the century uneventful.
Since leaving Marietta, Dr. Wilson has played a major role in designing and developing a new university for women in the United Arab Emirates—a task that he and a small group of fellow educators completed in six months. He was also asked to by the UAE Minister of Education to overhaul the kindergarten-through-12 educational system for that country.