On Thursday, March 1, Provost Dr. Timothy Wooster sent an email to the student body announcing that the proposed merger between Eastern Nazarene College and Trevecca Nazarene University would not move forward, and instead proceed as a partnership.
After Eastern’s former President Dr. Corlis McGee stepped down following the 2016-2017 academic year, the Board of Trustees decided that Dr. Dan Boone would become president of both Trevecca and ENC. There’s a stipulation in both schools’ bylaws that states the president must be full-time, and to accomplish this, the schools must merge and become one.
The exploratory merger period began after the Board of Trustees meeting in March 2017 and was intended to last three years. On September 1, 2017, Dr. Boone was voted president-elect of ENC and was inaugurated the next month.
To merge the two schools together, several institutions must approve the action. They are, as follows:
- Trevecca and Eastern’s separate Cabinets and Board of Trustees
- Tennessee and Massachusetts Boards of Higher Education
- The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), ENC’s accrediting institution
- The Southern Association of Colleges (SACS), TNU’s accrediting institution
- Church of the Nazarene
- The bank of Eastern Nazarene
- Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts
Dr. Wooster explained in more depth about the previous vision for the merger and how the partnership will exist now. “[If the merger had happened], ENC would remain on this campus, offering the programs that we’ve been offering. However, corporately we would move under Trevecca,” he says. “In order for that to happen, Trevecca would have to get permission from the state of Massachusetts to grant degrees in this state.” If the merger had passed, ENC students would have been granted degrees from Trevecca.
During the transition towards merger, Dr. Boone stepped in as president-elect. SACS, the accrediting body for Trevecca, granted the permission for the year, so the institutions had time to explore the merger and receive the required approvals. “When the time frame for the process exceeded that,” Wooster says, “it was clear that their accreditation agency would no longer allow him to be president, and that became one of the problems.”
The search for a new president will begin after the Board of Trustees meeting on March 23 and 24. While Dr. Boone was Eastern’s president-elect, he is not the current president. President-elect is a term to describe someone who has been elected to the position but not yet assumed the role. This is also seen during elections for the president of the United States, in that the successor is elected in November but not inaugurated until January. Until that time, they are president-elect.
“Although he was never officially, technically president, he absolutely functioned in an advisory way, as the president,” Wooster said. “Guiding our strategy, our vision, interacting with constituents, we viewed him in that stature and in that role.” Although he was our figurehead, the signing of official documents fell to the Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Wooster.
Going forward, certain things will remain the same. If a student spends a semester at Trevecca, those credits will transfer to Eastern. Access to online courses and team teaching of courses will remain. “The movement away from merger is really a technical change,” Wooster says. “What would not have been overly different is the ENC identity, ENC culture.”
What is certain is that students will miss Boone. An Instagram page was dedicated to the president-elect, called @danboonesightings. Several students kept the pictures of Boone that were handed out at homecoming, even hanging them on their walls. Bubba Snodderly held onto several. “I have a ton,” Snodderly says. “We even have one in the Third Memorial showers, even though I have no idea who put it there. I love the G.O.A.T. Dan Boone.”
Although Boone will no longer be serving as president elect, Wooster states he “will still be engaged in strategic planning functions” until further notice.