The Flagship Enterprise Center has announced that Dr. Terry Truitt, dean of the Falls School of Business, will begin serving as the chief executive officer as of June 1.
School administrators have not yet concluded who will fill Truitt’s position, but are examining the next steps of the process. The president, provost and faculty are working together to determine where to search and whether an interim candidate is needed.
The FEC wanted Truitt to start in March, but has worked with the university to accomodate students and faculty allowing him to see the current term to its end.
“For me to move from this role is very difficult for me on an emotional basis,” said Truitt. “It is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to decide to do, but I do believe that I can serve the university better in the role that I’m taking.”
In a press release, FEC Chairman Dennis Carroll said that after a thorough search process, Truitt was recommended by the search committee and subsequently endorsed by the board unanimously.
“Dr. Truitt is committed to the FEC mission and we have every confidence that his experience, skill set, and humble, collaborative style will provide the leadership we need,” he said.
Truitt will be succeeding Charles Staley, who held the position from the formation of the FEC in 2003 up until his retirement at the end of last year.
The FEC is a public-private partnership between the city of Anderson and the university initiated in 2003 and was conceived to spark investment and create business opportunities in the wake of the withdrawal of General Motors.
The business incubator aims to educate and nurture entrepreneurs in the community by providing resources, networking and capital. Programs such as Bankable, a nonprofit lender started in 2005, helps grow businesses into being qualified for traditional bank funding.
The organization aims to be apolitical, and it has established this by having seven of the 11 directors appointed by the president of AU and remaining four by the mayor of the city.
With the move to the FEC, Truitt will maintain the same dedication to support university.
Given the symbiotic relationship between the city and the university, each community will benefit from the prosperity of the other.
“My focus there will be a lot more on economic development and how to help people at that level as opposed to helping people here as students,” said Truitt. “I’m still very much about enabling others to succeed.”
Truitt, who was born in Alabama in the Baptist tradition, was not at all connected to the Church of God, the university, or the city before coming to AU. After nearly 25 years, he has grown to really appreciate the campus community and the city as well as the Church of God.
“There are very compelling things about all three of those that are a part of me, part of my life, and a part of my heart in many ways,” he said.
Truitt worked seven years for Zales Jewelers as a regional business manager until attending Mississippi State University for his doctorate of business administration in 1992.
After finishing his studies, he began to look for teaching opportunities in higher education, and came across an ad for AU.
“I’d never heard of Anderson University before, but I thought it would be good for me to serve on the mission field for two or three years,” he said. “I came here to give up myself for a little bit.”
In 1995, he joined AU as a faculty member, and after two years was asked to serve as the director of the MBA program. “I agreed to do it for one year and I did it for six.”
In 2003, Truitt was selected to be dean of the Falls School of Business and has seen significant growth in the MBA and DBA programs.
Under Truitt’s leadership, a special emphasis has been placed on unity and he has kept a growing and increasingly diverse school as one department, even as far as bringing graduate and undergraduate students together.
“When I came here in ‘95, they were beginning to really have strong conversations about how they would grow and build things,” Truitt said. “I just love that.”
“I very much had a sense of calling to come here,” he said.
Truitt also was swayed by AU’s emphasis on teaching students to be the salt and light of the world. “Our intent is to do the best we can to model salt and light for our students and then find ways in which they can do the same.”