Menu Flyout

Dr. Jacque Carter Inaugurated as Doane's 12th President

carter inauguration

 

During the May 5 inauguration ceremony for Dr. Jacque Carter, Board of Trustees Chair Ken James '69 shared a story from the final days of the search for Doane's 12th president.

The Search Committee had a concern. It had nothing to do with Carter's qualifications, said James. His address was the problem. Carter spent 20-plus years in Kennebunkport, Maine. He was provost and a vice president at the University of New England, where the ocean is a backdrop. Carter is a marine biologist.

This is Nebraska, the Search Committee stressed, a state that's not even neighbors of neighbors of the ocean; a state devoid of marine life. They asked if he truly wanted to lead a private liberal arts college in Nebraska. Carter reminded them that he grew up in rural Illinois.

"He was not just looking for a job, he was looking for a good fit for his beliefs and values," James said.

When Carter arrived at Doane in the summer of 2011, he quickly erased concerns about his relocation, immersing himself into the campus and the community.  

"He (Carter) embraced it," said Student Congress President Laura Jacob '12. "From the moment he stepped on campus, he has been a Tiger." Leading chants at pep rallies; eating in the cafeteria; walking with students; listening to students. "If the first year is any indication, we will be blessed with many more happy years of his tenure," Jacob said.

Heather Lambert, associate professor of psychology, spoke on behalf of faculty, sharing what impressed them during Carter's first academic year: his genuineness, his ability to look to the future while respecting the past, his commitment to equity and inclusiveness and his "thoughtful and intellectual approach to leadership."

His academic framework is marine biology, she said, which is why he can share obscure facts such as the number of fish species in the world (32,000). But he is also likely to quote poetry and Shakespeare, another side of his extensive academic credentials.

Carter earned his BS and MS from Northern Illinois University in Biological Sciences and his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary in Marine Sciences. Among his many accomplishments, he led the creation of the first coral reef marine reserve in the Caribbean, while working in Belize as a marine conservation research fellow with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

While in Belize, Carter met the inauguration's guest speaker, actress Jane Alexander, a four-time Oscar nominee, Tony Award winner, former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, longtime conservationist and wildlife advocate. "When I first met him, he was all wet. Literally, he was all wet, emerging from the ocean," Alexander said. Carter came straight out of the water to share the latest news about groupers, the fish he was studying. "I liked him immediately."

They formed a friendship around a mutual love of nature, conservation and the arts and worked together over the years through the New York Zoological Society and other organizations. "You are lucky to have such a scientist at the helm, but his commitment to arts is just as deep," she said. "...If I was 19 again, this is the campus where I would want to be."

When it was Carter's turn at the podium, he shared Doane's early history and how it has influenced his vision for its future. "In the decades ahead, many colleges will fail while others will prosper. That is to be expected, for this generation is not bearing witness to the end of learning - rather we are living through the beginning of a new era of how knowledge is acquired and delivered...Doane College is poised to not only be a part of this new beginning - it will be a leader. In part because we have a well thought-out plan. But also because...we were instilled with a pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit..."

The future will be guided by Doane's new strategic plan. That future hinges on technology that enhances academic excellence and student engagement, a future where a liberal arts education is experiential and integrated with the practical arts of the professions. It also will include a renewed commitment to sustainability, diversity and globalization, he said.

To achieve its success, Doane needs partners, he said. "If I learned anything in my years as a marine biologist, it was that it is far better to know somebody with a boat than to own one! Colleges cannot accomplish ambitious goals by going it alone."  Doane will look for partners in business, local, national and international communities, in research laboratories, hospitals and public schools, he said. "We will rekindle the ‘frontier spirit' of Doane's pioneering and entrepreneurial founders and adapt it to the new frontiers..."

The hot afternoon sun may have damped clothes and foreheads, but not the spirit of the nearly 200 in attendance. They joined together to sing "The Doane Hymn" and clapped as the Merrill Tower bell rang out in celebration of President Jacque Carter, the 12th president in Doane's 140-year history.