WIUM Tristates Public Radio

First Female President Takes the Reins at Culver Stockton College

Jul 21, 2014

The new president of Culver-Stockton College says she's excited for the opportunity to lead the institution in Canton, Mo.

New Culver-Stockton College President, Dr. Kelly Thompson

Thompson became the first woman to lead Culver-Stockton College on July 1st  replacing former President Dick Valentine.

Dr. Kelly Thompson started her career in theater, not higher education, working and performing in Chicago.

She decided, though, in the late 1980's that it was time for a change, which led her to a job as an office worker at National Louis University (Ill.).

Thompson left the university in an administrative role, which she continued at Barton College (NC) before arriving in Canton, Mo.

Thompson said she felt great about Culver-Stockton College from the moment a search firm contacted her about the position.

"The more she described, the more I read and researched about the institution, the more I thought my work at Barton College in fundraising and enrollment management... those synergies were really amazing," Thompson said.

She and her husband were in awe when they first stepped on campus.

"It is, I believe, one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States," Thompson said.  "I am looking forward to more students and more families visiting."

Thompson described her leadership style as one of bringing in smart and talented people to help with collaboration.

She said she is trying to spend as much time as she can during her first 90 days meeting with students, faculty, staff and alums so she can hear what they have to say.

Thompson anticipates the development of a new strategic plan in the coming months that would focus on Culver-Stockton College in 2020.

Former Culver-Stockton College President Dick Valentine

Former President Dick Valentine left the position after serving five years as the first alum to lead the institution.

Valentine said the college is in his blood and will always hold a special place in his heart.

He attended Culver-Stockton as an undergrad and led the admissions office before joining the Board of Trustees.

In 2009, he ascended to the role of president, the 25th in the college's history.

Valentine said the college is heading in the right direction, so it was time for him to step aside.

"I am so proud of this school and what we do and how we educate students today," Valentine said.  "We are on the cutting edge of education right here at Culver-Stockton College."

Valentine said if he had to narrow his list of favorite accomplishments, near the top would be the recent boost in enrollment.

The college's incoming classes over the last three years have exceeded 300, including more than 350 this year, prompting the need to cut off enrollment for on-campus living.

Valentine said he would also rank the recent capital campaign near the top.

"Not having done a capital campaign here for 21 years and being able to come in and excite people about giving back in such a special way," Valentine said, "and the end result we be us raising $14-million."

Valentine and his wife Lorna now live in Arkansas, so they can be closer to their children and grandchildren.