The current leader of Friends University is a teacher at heart who also brings 30 years of experience in higher education. He believes passionately in the power of education to change students’ lives.
Dr. T.J. Arant was unanimously selected by the Friends University Board of Trustees to become Friends University’s 13th president and took office July 1, 2011.
Dr. Arant previously served as executive vice president of Mount Olive College in North Carolina. Mount Olive College is the fifth largest private college in North Carolina.
He hails from the south with a doctorate in English from Duke University, a master’s in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s from Vanderbilt University.
After earning his Ph.D. in 1991, Dr. Arant pursued his teaching interests. He quickly moved through the ranks to full professor, teaching at Duke University, Appalachian State University, Notre Dame College and Mount Olive College, and accumulated many teaching honors including Teacher of the Year.
From 2000 on, Dr. Arant transitioned into executive positions where he led educational institutions with enrollments varying from 1,100 to 4,000 students.
Collaborative leadership, resource development, resource management and a student-centric view have been hallmarks of Dr. Arant’s career. At Mount Olive College, he led efforts to redesign the College’s business model, thereby making more efficient the internal workings of the College, and helped lead the Mount Olive’s successful ten-year reaccreditation. During his tenure at Notre Dame College, student enrollment and faculty doubled in size. When serving as head of the East Central Colleges Consortium, Dr. Arant helped nine colleges collaborate to serve their missions.
He has published extensively and is a known advocate for faculty and leadership development. He has presented to faculty around the nation covering topics ranging from course assessment to academic career planning.
While the role of teacher is among the most fulfilling for Dr. Arant, he describes his family as his great joy: his wife, Susan, formerly a fundraiser and director of alumni affairs at a small private college, and their two grown daughters.