Last summer Dr. Tom Bogart and his family from Pennsylvania vacationed in Tennessee.
This summer, they became permanent residents. The 46-year-old Bogart began his tenure as the college’s 11th president on July 1, 2010, and will be officially inaugurated on Saturday, April 16..
“My wife has a brother who lives outside of Nashville,” said Bogart. “Last summer there was a family get- together in Nashville, and then we vacationed in East Tennessee, not knowing where fate was going to lead us.”
Bogart succeeded President Gerald W. Gibson, who retired after 17 years as president.
Bogart was dean of academic affairs and professor of economics at York College. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
“Board members were impressed with Dr. Bogart’s leadership experience, his background as a scholar and a teacher, his commitment to undergraduate education, and his understanding of the challenges and opportunities of a church-related college,” said Dr. Dorsey D. “Dan” Ellis, chairman of the board. “In the search process, the college community compiled an extensive list of desired attributes, and we believe that Dr. Bogart possesses all of these qualities.”
Bogart said he was attracted to the job at Maryville College because of a variety of factors, including the liberal arts curriculum, the academic quality, the church-related nature of the college, the emphasis on developing the whole person and individual attention for students, the quality of the faculty and also the geographic location.
Bogart said there are similarities between York College, which has a student population of 4,600, and Maryville College.
“At York, we have that same focus on working individually with undergraduate students to help them identify and achieve their potential,” he said. “The sizes of the schools aren’t the same, but there is the same educational philosophy.”
When asked what his long-term career goals are, Bogart said, “This position is my long-term career goal,” he said. “Maryville has a marvelous history of long-serving, successful presidents, and I hope to continue that.”
Community involvement was also sighted by Bogart and being important to his role at Maryville College.
“I look for opportunities where I can be helpful,” he said. “That’s the real answer. I look to be involved in ways I can be helpful and in ways where it can help Maryville College.”
Bogart played soccer in college and when asked to describe his management style, he compared himself to a soccer coach.
“What a soccer coach does is find really good people, help them get into positions where they can be successful and where they can support each other,” he said. “You help them work together to achieve a common goal. That’s my management style.”
Bogart said he enjoys interacting with students. “That’s why I’m in higher education. We’re here for the students,” he said. “I look forward to getting to know them in academic and cultural settings, at sports events and in a variety of other ways.”
Bogart graduated from high school in Manassas, Va., and earned a bachelor’s degree from Rice University in Houston. He met his wife Mary when he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to become a professor. They have been married since 1992.
“We both looked at Maryville very closely, and we are both really excited about it. This wasn’t something I sprung on her,” Bogart said.
The Bogarts have one daughter, Elizabeth, who is in middle school.
The incoming president said his priority in the first year will be listening. “Maryville has enthusiastic faculty, students, staff, board members, alumni and friends who have a lot of ideas on how to keep the institution at a high quality and help it do even better,” he said. “I’m looking forward to listening to lots of those ideas.”
Bogart said he is proud of the history of Maryville College.
“We have a great history of having stable leadership; that gives us a chance to make substantial investments because we get to know each other and trust each other,” he said. “Under Dr. Gibson there was huge growth and success with enrollment and renovating the campus. I see myself coming into a place that is very successful and seeing an opportunity to build on that success.”
Perhaps Dr. Bogart’s most ambitious goal, one already on the table before his arrival, is broadening the diversity of the students.
In recent years, the college has catered mostly to regional students, what Bogart called an “overemphasis on recruiting in Tennessee.”
With a sticker price that approaches $40,000 for the year, top-notch students in the South who want to attend private liberal arts schools are likely to consider Davidson College (North Carolina), Washington and Lee University (Virginia) or Centre College (Kentucky) - all small schools with similar tuition costs but bigger reputations.
Bogart insists that Maryville College can compete with top-tier schools, especially when it comes to what small schools offer best - a homey atmosphere, personalized attention and sense of belonging.
But to attract those students, it means making sure they’ve heard of Maryville College.
It’s time, he said, to expand the marketing base to make sure Maryville enters those college choice conversations between students and parents within a five-hour drive of the college.
In the coming school year, Maryville College’s administration likely will choose a handful of places, perhaps in North Carolina or Georgia, where it will try to develop a pipeline. Much like a college football team recruiting players, bringing in a handful of students from one area highlights the school and creates a buzz among other students who may not have known about the college before.
Still, he said, he won’t neglect Maryville College’s role locally.
“In the long run, we have a strong identity in East Tennessee,” he said. “If we succeed in recruiting students from North Carolina but fail to reach the students in Farragut, then we’re missing the point.”
Over the summer, Bogart sat in on a student panel session during an orientation weekend.
He threw out questions for the returning students alongside the parents, asking what they do for fun and how they spend time on campus.
During the school year, he’s committed to holding open office hours for students to address their problems or just get to know their new leader.
The intention, he said, is to increase freshman-to-sophomore retention rates, a trendy emphasis in higher education across the nation right now.
At Maryville College, the retention number hovers around 75 percent. Bogart wants that at 80 percent.
There will always be transfers who want to pursue a major not among the 60 or so the Blount County college offers, or those who leave for family or personal circumstances, Bogart acknowledges.
“But who are those 10 or 20 people we’re losing, who we shouldn’t be losing?” he asked.
Leading Maryville College, Bogart said, is his dream job: in the presidential office of a small, liberal arts college that’s church-related in a town close to a city in the South.
“I’m home,” he said from the winged-back chair in his office. “This is such an easy place to be from.”
Prior to joining York, Bogart was on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), where he was chair of the Department of Economics and a research associate of the Center for Regional Economic Issues. While at CWRU, he earned numerous teaching awards, including the Carl F. Wittke Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and the Weatherhead Undergraduate Teaching Award.
His research interests include state and local government tax and spending decisions, local government economic development and land use policy and the effects of school redistricting on real estate markets. He has published widely, including two books, “The Economics of Cities and Suburbs” (Prentice Hall, 1998) and “Don’t Call It Sprawl: Metropolitan Structure in the Twenty-First Century” (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Scripps writer Megan Boehnke and editor Lance Coleman contributed to this story.