“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Whitaker, and his wife, Maria, to the King University family,” said Warren Payne (’69), chair of King University’s Board of Trustees. “He was the top candidate in an unbelievably qualified pool of applicants, and he brings with him a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing institutions like King University. His skills and experience will be tremendous assets, and we are excited about the future of King University under his leadership as President.”
Following a unanimous vote by King’s Board of Trustees, Whitaker was introduced to a gathering of the King community, including faculty, staff, and students, as the president-elect of the University on March 21. He also participated in the University’s Dogwood Weekend and spring commencement.
“I am honored to be selected to lead King University, an institution with deep Christian roots that is dedicated to academic excellence and personalized educational experiences for its students,” Whitaker said. “King University has seen a great deal of growth and many successes in recent years. I am excited at the prospect of working with the trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to continue the rich academic history that is the foundation of this well-respected University. Maria and I look forward to making the Bristol area our home and enjoying the many wonderful attributes that make this region so special.
“As is everyone in the King community, I am deeply indebted to Dick Ray for his marvelous stewardship of the University as interim president,” added Whitaker. “He has accomplished much in a short time, especially in restoring morale and making much-needed improvements to the Bristol campus. I look forward to building on his exceptional contributions.”
Following his tenure as interim president of King University, Dr. Richard Ray, and his wife, Lila, are returning to their home in Montreat, N.C.
President Whitaker comes to King from Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga., where he served as chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Trustees, with broad leadership responsibilities across the college. He previously served Berry as the assistant vice president for major gifts. In May 2016, the Berry College Board of Trustees granted Whitaker emeritus status.
Before coming to King, Whitaker also served three years on Georgia’s Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission, appointed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
He is a trustee and former board of visitors chair at Trinity School for Ministry, an Anglican and Episcopal seminary in the Pittsburgh area. Active in church and community, he previously served as chancellor (chief legal counsel) for the Anglican Diocese of the South, as president and chairman of the William S. Davies Homeless Shelter in Rome, Ga., and as vice-chair of Mercy Care, Rome.
Before Berry, Whitaker served as captain in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where his 25-year career focused primarily on litigation and international law. He was assigned to sea duty and shore tours on both U.S. coasts and in Washington, D.C., and overseas in Scotland, London, and Japan. His final tours of duty were as deputy assistant judge advocate general for general civil litigation in Washington D.C., and then as commanding officer of the Navy’s Southeast legal services command. His military decorations include two Legions of Merit and four Meritorious Service Medals, in addition to numerous other personal and unit awards.
Whitaker, a member of the Georgia and Virginia state bars, earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Penn., and is continuing further doctoral work at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C.
Married for 32 years, Whitaker and his wife, Maria, have three grown children - their two sons, software engineers in Seattle and Chicago, and their daughter, an attorney in Richmond.