Danville's Donald P. Lofe Jr. has made history by being selected as the 23rd president at the historic Westminster College in Fulton, MO.
Previously serving as the Board of Trustees Chair and then interim president at Westminster, Lofe was selected this month by the board to lead the 170-year-old liberal arts college on a permanent basis -- being chosen for the position in no small part due to his steady leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Don’s appointment reflects the board’s confidence in the job he’s done as interim president and in his vision for the college’s future,” said Board Chair Jim Morton, who became Board Chair in 2020 when Lofe became interim president.
“From the outset, we made it clear that this appointment would be no ordinary ‘caretaker’ interim role. Don fully accepted the responsibility of overseeing Westminster College, even though the institution was in the midst of the pandemic, which presented unprecedented challenges for our college and every academic institution in the country,” Morton added.
Founded in 1851, Westminster may be best known as the location of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in 1945.
The only national liberal arts college in Missouri to be included in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the institution is in the top 15% of graduate earnings and boasts a 98% placement rate, while being ranked as a Forbes Best Value College.
Lofe was officially appointed interim president and chief transformation officer last year upon the retirement of former President Dr. Fletcher Lamkin, with school officials saying the appointment will provide continuity of leadership at Westminster.
The appointment will take effect July 1, 2021, and extend his initial term by at least two additional years from his interim agreement, through June 30, 2024. Lofe will also maintain his title as Chief Transformation Officer at the school and continue to serve on the board as an ex-officio member, which is consistent with historic practice for the role of the president, according to school staff.
“I’m honored and humbled by the confidence the college and the board have placed in me,” Lofe said. “The progress we have made during this challenging year is the result of everyone working together in so many ways. We are building an exciting and sustainable future for Westminster, and I invite all of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to join with us to make this a reality. With the entire college community, my wife, Lorraine, and I very much look forward to this next phase of our Westminster journey together.”
The board credited Lofe and his cabinet with developing a "First 100 Days" plan upon his ascension to his post as interim president. The plan evaluated campus-wide policies and established provisions to safeguard students, faculty and staff from the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan was followed by new operating initiatives and educational protocols that were implemented using a hybrid format, including both virtual and in-person learning opportunities for students.
Lofe has also stressed transparency and open communication top priorities for his administration. Vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty David Roebuck said, "(Lofe) has been genuinely interested in listening to faculty and supporting their efforts.
Building on a past task force initiative at Westminster, Lofe has also placed a priority on inclusion, including reconstituting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee, aimed at enhancing opportunities for all members of the college community.
“The college is thriving under Don’s leadership,” Morton said. “Freshman enrollment is up more than 25% for the current academic year, and freshman applications for Fall 2021 have increased an amazing 88%.”
“He’s making improvements that will enable Westminster College to continue its transformation, increase its enrollment, strengthen its curriculum, and enhance its operations, among other initiatives, all of which are creating a very bright future for Westminster,” Morton added.
Lofe is a 1979 graduate of Westminster, where he became a two-time NAIA Indoor Track and Field All-American after being a standout scholar-athlete at St. Louis’s Parkway North Senior High.
Most recently, Lofe was a partner and the chief risk officer for Global Business Services - Mortgage and Lending Solutions for the IBM Corporation.
"Throughout his career, Lofe has held senior executive positions at public and non-public entities, including those in insurance, community lending, and other financial and mortgage-related service industries, both domestically and internationally. He was also a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, specializing in financial services and private and public higher-education clientele," school staff said.