Warren Wilson president retires; Black Mountain Council member named interim president

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Warren Wilson President Lynn Morton announced her retirement on March 30, planning to leave the college at the end of the academic year.

Lynn Morton, president of Warren Wilson College since 2017, announced March 30 she will retire at the end of the academic year. 

“My time at Warren Wilson College has brought me great joy and professional growth,” Morton said in a statement from the college. “I’m grateful for the many productive working relationships and personal friendships that I have formed, all of which I am sure will endure into the future, as well as for this exceptional community and its positive impact on my life.”

The college Board of Trustees has appointed former board chair and Town Council member Bill Christy, class of '79, as the interim president to serve until the permanent appointment of a new president.

"I'm looking forward to it," Christy said. "It's a change, it's a challenge and hopefully I'll be able to help a little bit and smooth the way to the next president."

Christy said in the past, the hiring process for a new president has been lengthy.

According to Lach Zemp, the chair of the college Board of Trustees, the search for a new president will begin "in the near future" with plans to have found a replacement by or before the fall 2023 semester. 

“During her five years of strategic and focused leadership, Warren Wilson College has not only weathered a host of challenges facing colleges and universities across the country, but has experienced growth in enrollment and strengthening of its core values,” Zemp said in the statement. "We will sorely miss her."

Morton attributed her retirement decision in large part to personal reasons. She lost her husband of 42 years, Ric Morton, to cancer last June. The impact of her loss coupled with the need to support her family amid pandemic challenges resulted in her decision to leave. 

Warren Wilson staff say having achieved enrollment growth and financial stability over the past five years, the college is in a solid position to find a new leader. 

Throughout her time as president, Morton led multiple initiatives for undergraduate retention and expanding athletics. While fostering relationships with the local community, the college boasted record-breaking fundraising results under Morton. 

In a statement from the college, Morton gave credit to the community for her achievements. 

"In the past five years, we have accomplished so much together," she said. "I know that this college can do whatever it puts its mind, heart and soul to do."

Zemp thanked Morton for her hard work and dedication to the college, saying Warren Wilson can continue to provide students with higher education and value hard work thanks to her efforts. 

In her announcement, Morton expressed appreciation to the Warren Wilson faculty, staff and students. 

"I cannot overstate what a special place Warren Wilson College is," Morton said. "Any leader would be lucky to serve here. I am deeply grateful for the experience."

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.