Catawba College announces changes in academic administration

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

Catawba College News Service

SALISBURY — After four years as Catawba College provost, J. Michael Bitzer will step down at the end of the fall semester to assume new responsibilities at the college. Bitzer will become the inaugural director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching.

Bitzer will play a lead role in development and implementation of not only the center but in the school’s values proposition. The values proposition is a campuswide initiative that will enhance Catawba’s ability to provide internships, travel, undergraduate research, service learning, and other experiential opportunities for students.

Bitzer will also return to the classroom, teaching politics and history.

Colleagues of Bitzer who have served since May 2016 in associate provost roles will assume new roles of their own. Forrest Anderson, associate provost for student academic success, will maintain his current responsibilities and will become acting dean of students, effective Monday. Constance Rogers-Lowery, associate provost for faculty development, will become acting provost, effective Jan. 1 with the start of the spring semester.

Catawba President Brien Lewis announced the changes in academic administration on Monday. He said the college will launch national searches to fill both the provost and dean of students positions before the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

Lewis thanked Bitzer for his commitment to Catawba and for being willing to wear so many hats for so long. He also praised Anderson and Rogers-Lowery for their willingness to fill the positions being vacated by Bitzer. He said the three administrators share a strong commitment to help grow Catawba’s student population as they work to enhance student opportunities for participation in high-impact learning practices and engagement on campus.

“These three individuals represent the academic excellence we offer at Catawba College. They truly are our servant leaders, willing to go above and beyond as we strive for institutional excellence and collegiality,” Lewis said.

Bitzer, director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching

Bitzer was named provost at Catawba in early January 2014. He had been in the position on an acting basis since June 1, 2013. A professor of politics and history, he joined the faculty in 2002.

Bitzer has been active in faculty governance, having chaired the admissions committee and served on the curriculum and assessment Ccommittees. At the time of his appointment as acting provost, he was chairman of the department of history and politics.

Bitzer came to Catawba as a visiting instructor in the political science department. A native of South Carolina, he discovered a passion for Southern politics in the early 1980s while in high school, landing a job as a page in the Washington office of South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Erskine College, a master of arts degree in history from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs, where he was selected as one of five “Excellence in Teaching” award winners for 2002. Before beginning work on his doctorate, he was a newspaper reporter and public affairs director at Clemson University.

He was tapped by Catawba President Robert E. Knott to serve as interim dean of admissions from 2007 through the end of 2008. During that period, he managed the responsibilities of that position while continuing to teach a full slate of classes in his subject area. For the 2011-12 academic year, he was the Swink Professor for Excellence in Teaching at Catawba, after a vote of the faculty senate.

He is frequently sought out by local, regional and national media outlets as a commentator on Southern politics and elections. His comments have been used by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, NPR, the Charlotte Observer, the News & Observer, the State, and television stations in the Charlotte market. He has posted observations about regional and national politics in a blog titled “The Party Line” for WFAE, the Charlotte NPR affiliate.

Anderson, associate provost for student academic success and acting dean of students

Anderson said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue his partnership with Drs. Rogers-Lowery and Bitzer as “we work to centralize high impact practices at Catawba College.”

“I am eager to gain insights into the student life side of campus as I work to improve our retention and graduation rates at the college,” he said.

Anderson joined the faculty in 2010 as an assistant professor in the English department. Prior to Catawba, he was an assistant professor of English at Arkansas Tech University and a teaching assistant in the department of English at Florida State University. At Florida State, he worked for two years as an archivist and assistant for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler, his dissertation director.

Anderson has published more than a dozen short stories in literary journals and magazines. He has served as contributing editor for the “Fiction Writers Review” and is currently a co-chairman of the literary arts section of the Christian Scholars Conference.

At Catawba, Anderson is the faculty athletic representative. He is also a member of the executive committee of the Chiefs Club.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism and mass communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of South Carolina and his doctorate in English, with concentrations in fiction, at Florida State University.

Rogers-Lowery, acting provost

Rogers-Lowery said moving into the role of acting provost will give her yet another career challenge and an opportunity to glean experience in academic administration.

“Change can be an anxious time, but it is also truly exciting,” she shared. “Over the past year, the campus community has demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider and embrace changes that improve the educational experiences of our students. We have a positive restlessness about us. I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff, students, and friends in implementing our Values Proposition and other initiatives.”

Rogers-Lowery joined the faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor of biology and was promoted to associate professor of biology in 2012. She chaired the department of biology from 2012 until 2016, when she was appointed associate provost of faculty development.

Since 2012, Rogers-Lowery has served as director of Catawba’s Noyce Scholarship Program, after she successfully wrote a $1.45 million grant proposal with the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program of the National Science Foundation to fund the program. Scholarships provided through the program, which ran between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2017, helped prepare science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors for teaching careers.

Rogers-Lowery won the Swink Award for Classroom Teaching in 2014.

Before joining the faculty at Catawba, Lowery was a faculty member and instructor of biology at the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in Concord and the Presbyterian School of Nursing in Charlotte. She also was a research assistant professor, completing postdoctoral work at UNC-Wilmington.

Rogers-Lowery earned her bachelor of arts and master of sciences degrees in biology from UNC-Charlotte and her doctor of philosophy degree in biology from Wake Forest University.