President Bill Crouch has academic and personal reasons to be excited about introducing Nathan O. Hatch as the Georgetown College Founders Day speaker at 11 a.m. Tuesday (January 25) in John L. Hill Chapel.

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch

Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch

Dr. Hatch happens to be the 13th president of Dr. Crouch’s alma mater, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. More importantly, the speaker will be illuminating for the Georgetown audience the importance of taking the proper journey toward attaining Phi Beta Kappa standards. And, Dr. Crouch hopes to show his Wake Forest guest the College’s vibrancy as a top tier academic community – one worthy of becoming a pipeline of promising Georgetown students for their graduate programs.

“This year’s event carries extra importance as we begin to position ourselves strategically for the formal pursuit of Phi Beta Kappa,” President Crouch wrote to the Georgetown College campus community. “When the time comes for us to make formal application and to begin to work on our preparation for a visitation team to arrive on campus, we must have Phi Beta Kappa institutional allies. For that reason, we are beginning the process of inviting leaders from Phi Beta Kappa institutions to our campus to see our Ensor LRC, to meet our faculty and to sense our spirit. Wake Forest University is clearly one of our natural allies for these reasons: a former Baptist college that now has a national reputation, a President who was Provost at Notre Dame before assuming his role at WFU and a university that has recently partnered with us to recruit are best students into their graduate schools.”

(President Crouch noted that just this week, the College received word that Anita Smith, a senior from Louisville, has been offered a full scholarship into the WFU School of Accounting, one of the top 5 accounting programs in the country.)
Prior to President Hatch’s address, two men will be inducted into the Georgetown College Hall of Fame:

Dr. Verlin Kruschwitz, the long-time pastor of Elizabethtown’s historic Severns Valley Baptist Church and former chairman and member of Georgetown College’s board of trustees; and, Joe Dan Osceola ’63, who would go on to being elected the youngest president of any Indian tribe in North America and founder of the United Southeastern Tribes. Today, he is a businessman and serves as an Ambassador to the World for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Dr. Hatch, Tuesday’s speaker, became Wake Forest’s 13th president July 1, 2005. He had previously served for nine years as Provost at the University of Notre Dame, where he was the Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History.

Clarifying Wake Forest’s mission and strategic plan has been one of the crowning achievements of his first five year. The strategic plan sets forth what it means for Wake to become the nation’s premier “collegiate university.” On his official bio, Hatch is quoted saying: “This is an exciting time for Wake Forest. We have a rare opportunity to integrate an undergraduate liberal arts tradition with the vitality of a research university.” Toward that end, he raised more than $10 million in a Presidential Trust for Faculty Excellence to ensure that Wake Forest can recruit and retain outstanding “teacher-scholars.”

Under Hatch’s leadership Wake Forest has also completed two major integration projects. Wake Forest’s separate undergraduate and graduate business programs have been combined into one, and major funds have been raised for a new home for the school, “Farrell Hall,” construction for which will begin in the summer of 2011.

Hatch has also been instrumental in merging Wake Forest University Health Sciences and North Carolina Baptist Hospital—each with revenues of some one billion dollars—into a single entity with common management. Another outstanding leader, Dr. John McConnell, has been recruited as CEO of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Hatch has also undertaken bold steps to make the Wake Forest experience more personal and to challenge students to live an examined and purposeful life. A student can apply to Wake Forest without standardized tests, but all applicants are encouraged to have a personal interview. Hatch has also established the Office for Personal and Career Development.The mandate of the office is to develop mentoring programs, course offerings, lectures, and retreats that will help students think through larger questions about how one’s deepest values should shape professional choices.

Hatch is an active leader in American higher education and in local and community affairs. He recently served on the board of the American Council on Education, and he is currently a member of the Division I Board of Directors of the NCAA. He was recently elected as vice-chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He has also been very active in community development in Winston Salem. A board member of the United Way of Forsyth County, he also serves as the Chairman of the 2010 United Way Campaign.

He and his wife, Julie, a former public school teacher, have three children: Gregg, a 1997 graduate of Notre Dame, is a hospital administrator in Seattle, WA; David, a 2000 Notre Dame graduate, received an MBA degree from Duke University in 2007 and is working in finance in Charlotte, NC; and Beth is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame, working in Washington, DC at Georgetown University. The Hatches also have four young grandchildren. In the spirit of Wake Forest as one big family, they have opened up the “garage” of their home as a lounge and meeting place for Wake Forest students.

Dr. Hatch grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where his father was a Presbyterian minister. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, he received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and held post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities. He joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 1975. He was named provost, the university’s second highest-ranking position, in 1996; a Presbyterian, he was the first Protestant to ever serve in that position at Notre Dame.

He is regularly cited as one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America. He received national acclaim for his 1989 book, The Democratization of American Christianity, in which he examines how the rise of religious groups in the early 19th century helped shape American culture and foster democracy. The book was chosen in a survey of 2,000 historians and sociologists as one of the two most important books in the study of American religion. He is also the author or editor of seven other books on American history.