“While this opportunity for Dr. Kerr is a loss to Bluefield College, it speaks well of his academic and professional gifts and abilities,” said BC president, Dr. David Olive. “It also speaks well of Bluefield College and reflects the caliber of faculty who teach and serve here.”
Dr. Kerr joined the BC faculty in the fall of 1992 as an assistant professor of biology after working as a research associate at the University of Minnesota, an adjunct professor at Southwest Virginia Community College, and an adjunct associate professor at Patrick Henry (VA) College.
He was promoted to associate professor in 1997, chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics in 1999, and full professor in 2003. He also served as interim vice president for academic affairs during the 2008-2009 academic year, a precursor to the VP role at Sterling.
“When I started at Bluefield 18 years ago, it was because God changed my focus from test tubes to teaching,” said Dr. Kerr. “I feel that God has orchestrated events that again changed my focus, this time from teaching to academic leadership.”
As BC’s interim vice president for academic affairs and a member of the President’s Leadership Team, Dr. Kerr managed an academic program consisting of 20 undergraduate majors. He also negotiated articulation agreements with the Virginia Community College System and the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine. In addition, he served as the accreditation liaison for the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
“Dr. Kerr has been a proven leader on our campus,” Dr. Olive said. “We appreciate his 18 years of dedicated service and wish him well in his new position.”
As head of BC’s Biology Department, Dr. Kerr created a program that sees an average of 70 percent of its graduates earn advanced degrees, including 40 percent from doctoral programs at medical, dental and pharmaceutical schools. He also created a new forensic science program for the school and led the integration of Christian service with academic preparation of pre-health professions students.
The 18-year veteran of the BC classroom earned the college’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 2007. He earned the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2000 for his “outstanding contributions to the protection and enhancement of Virginia’s natural resources” and a Mellon Foundation Research Grant to study water quality in 1997.
As part of his ongoing professional development, Dr. Kerr traveled to Ecuador to study the ecology of the Galapagos Islands in 2007 and to Austria for a Salzburg Global Seminar in 2009. He has served on a variety of committees to support and advance the mission of the college, including Leadership search committees, strategic planning groups, and committees reporting to the Board of Trustees.
“Although we are thrilled that Dr. Kerr has received this wonderful opportunity to use his God-given talents and abilities as the VPAA at Sterling College, we, the faculty of Bluefield College, will miss his leadership, expertise, and humor,” said Faculty President Donna Watson. “Not only has he been instrumental in providing an excellent foundation for science students to pursue their dreams and goals, he also has had a positive impact in other areas of academics as well.”
Outside of the Bluefield College community, Dr. Kerr has served on the Scholarship Selection Committee for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the Board of Directors for the Abel Crisis Pregnancy Center. He has also served on mission in Mexico and participated in the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ Liberal Education and America’s Promise Symposium (LEAP); the Council of Independent Colleges’ Department Chair Workshop; the Science and Evidence for Design Symposium at Yale University; and various Pre-Medical Advisors Conferences.
Also in the community, he earned a grant from the Bluefield Regional Medical Center Foundation to establish a physiological monitoring laboratory for pre-med students, shortly after assisting the Tazewell Soil and Water Conservation District in biological monitoring of water quality in the Bluestone River. Now, his focus will turn to leading the academic affairs at Sterling.
“I have worked with many fine people here at Bluefield, and I will certainly miss them,” Dr. Kerr said, “but at the same time I am looking forward to being able to contribute to the Sterling College mission.”
Dr. Kerr is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he earned a Ph.D. in plant physiology; Colorado State University where he earned a master’s degree in horticulture; and Cornell University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science.
He and his wife, Cheryl, have four children: Laura, Melissa, Timothy and Emily. Outshining 40 other applicants for the VP position at Sterling, Dr. Kerr will assume his new duties on July 1, 2010.