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University of Mount Olive President Announces Plans for Retirement


University of Mount Olive President Announces Plans for Retirement

MOUNT OLIVE – University of Mount Olive President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.  The announcement was made to faculty and staff on Friday during the Annual University Conference.

“Mary and I have thoroughly enjoyed our tenure here,” Kerstetter said, “however, after 52 years in higher education, including my own schooling, it is time to pursue some of our own personal interests and projects.”

He feels that he will be leaving the University in good shape for his successor.

“This is an attractive presidency,” Kerstetter said.  “We chose to come to the University of Mount Olive because it presented many opportunities for us.  With its growing student population, multiple locations, and strong faith-based affiliation, we saw so much potential. 
We have been honored and blessed to be a part of the University’s development and growth, and I feel we have helped position the institution for a great future.”

Kerstetter was appointed the fourth president of Mount Olive College on April 9, 2009.  His term began on July 1, 2009.  Prior to his appointment, Dr. Kerstetter served as president of Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas.  His career in public and private higher education has encompassed a wide range of increasingly responsible roles in all segments of university and college governance including working with student affairs, academic and curriculum development; initiating and completing major advancement goals; designing and implementing fiscal strategies; and completing the duties and roles associated with being a university president.

During Kerstetter’s tenure, Mount Olive transitioned from a college to a university; increased traditional student enrollment; launched new academic programs including three graduate programs; started online programing; strengthened the institution’s finances; completed a successful capital campaign; constructed  new residence halls and a new track and field/lacrosse complex; expanded Rodgers Chapel; acquired several new properties including the Old Sleep Inn, the Byrd Building, the Institutional Advancement downtown  offices, the Pender Building, and Kornegay Farm; added lacrosse as a sport; expanded the relationship with the University’s founding church; and placed an emphasis on the development of the arts.

Dr. Kerstetter has become active in numerous organizations.  He serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of United Wayne, a member of the Wayne Education Network, a member of the Board of Directors for the NC Independent Colleges and University, a member of the Board of Directors of the Wayne County Development Authority, and a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Council.

Board Chair Earl Worley commended Kerstetter’s leadership of the University, “With gratitude and respect, the Board of Trustees congratulates Dr. Kerstetter on the success the University has achieved during his eight years as President. His steady leadership has enabled the University to move forward with new academic programs, positive community relationships, major campus facility enhancements, and so much more.  The Board wishes to express our heartfelt thanks for his service and leadership,” Worley said.

Worley indicated that with a year's notice, the University will be able to conduct a national search for a new president without a gap in leadership. “Academic Search, one of the nation’s oldest firms, has been hired to facilitate the search process,” Worley said. 

Kerstetter noted that each new president will bring his or her own strengths to the institution.  “As president, you put your heart and soul into your work, and you want to see it continue to prosper.  The next president may have some different goals, and that is good and appropriate.  The important thing is moving forward.”

Kerstetter said there will be a lot that he will miss about eastern North Carolina including the mild winters, access to the beach, the community, and good quality of life.  But, it’s the people at the University that he says he will miss the most. 

“Higher education is all about serving students, and to have the opportunity to work with incredible students and have an impact on their lives has been the most rewarding part of the work that Mary and I do,” he said.  “The University of Mount Olive has great people, and it has been our great pleasure to work with a committed, caring and talented group of faculty and staff.  Mary and I have been so fortunate to maintain contact with so many students, faculty and staff, both here and at the other places where we have served”

The Kerstetters plan to retire to Pittsburgh.  They have two children and five grandchildren.  

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit