ABILENE, Texas –Dr. Sandra Harper, President of Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a former McMurry professor and dean, has been selected by the McMurry Board of Trustees as the school’s new president. She becomes the first woman serving as a full-time president of an Abilene university.
Dr. Harper will begin her duties at McMurry University immediately as president-elect and has designated Dr. Paul Fabrizio, Vice President for Academic Affairs, for day-to-day decisions until she arrives on campus in the fall.
“Dr. Harper rose to the top of a very competitive recruiting process. Her presence, extensive experience and passion for McMurry immediately impressed our entire campus community,” said alumnus and Board of Trustees Chair Chuck Fallon. “We did not compromise on this search and were blessed to find the ideal candidate we were seeking. Dr. Harper is a visionary with all the requisite skills to turn vision into action. Her results speak for themselves and we anxiously await the positive impact she will certainly have on the future of McMurry.”
“It feels great to be coming back to McMurry and the Abilene community,” said Dr. Harper. “It is exhilarating to see faculty colleagues, former students who have become successful alumni, and staff members loyal to this institution. All of these things make for an extremely exciting opportunity.”
McMurry board member and alumnus Dr. Weldon Crowley, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said Dr. Harper immediately stood out from a large number of highly-qualified candidates applying for the position.
“In the course of the interview, it became obvious to the committee members that Dr. Harper was the right candidate for this position. We needed someone who could bring to the table the expertise she has. She knows McMurry and she has gone on to success at three other schools.”
Dr. Harper has served as President of Our Lady of the Lake College since 2006. Prior to her presidential appointment, Harper served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from 1998-2006. Her other administrative posts included serving as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma City University and as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at McMurry University.
Dr. Harper began her service at McMurry in 1985 as an assistant professor of communication. During the next ten years, she was awarded tenure and rose through the academic ranks to professor of communication. While at McMurry, she received the Outstanding Faculty Award and the Outstanding Administrator Award.
Dr. Harper received her B.S. degree from Texas Tech University and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. She also completed the Harvard Management Development Program and the Governor’s Executive Development Program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas. Dr. Harper is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges, the Executive Committee of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance Commission.
In 2011, Dr. Harper was named a Distinguished Alumna by the Texas Tech University College of Education. She is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in American Education. She has received the Management Excellence Award from the Society for the Advancement of Management, and the Y Women in Careers Award from the Corpus Christi YWCA. Dr. Harper is a member of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.
She is married to Dave Harper, who coached at Abilene High School for nine years and other high schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The couple has two sons, who spent most of their childhood in Abilene. Justin Harper, a major in the United States Army, recently moved his wife and four children to Ft. Riley Kansas, where he is on the division staff of the First Infantry Division. Jonathan Harper is the Assistant Director of Equipment Operations in the athletics department at the University of North Texas.