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11/8/2005 Linfield College names new president

McMINNVILLE – Dr. Thomas Hellie, president and executive director of the James S. Kemper Foundation in Chicago, Ill., has been named the 19th president of Linfield College. Hellie will begin his duties at Linfield on April 3, 2006.

Glenna Kruger, chair of the board of trustees, announced today that Hellie was elected at the Linfield College Board of Trustees meeting Saturday, Nov. 5. He replaces Dr. Vivian A. Bull who retired in June after serving as president for 13 years. Dr. Marvin Henberg has been serving as interim president since July 1.

"Dr. Hellie brings a broad background in higher education to Linfield College," Kruger said. "He has served as a faculty member, an academic administrator and a foundation executive. He has a passion for liberal arts education and understands its link with professional education. He is an advocate for both students and faculty. The board believes Dr. Hellie has the background, values and leadership abilities to build on past successes as Linfield College moves forward."

Hellie said he looks forward to leading a college which is already known regionally for its academic excellence.

"I strongly believe that the liberal arts provide the best preparation for life and career, but I am impressed that Linfield also helps students find their calling through professional and practical opportunities," Hellie said. "I share the college’s commitment to educating the whole person, both within and outside the classroom. Linfield offers something that young people crave but rarely find elsewhere in today’s America: a sense of genuine community and civil intellectual exchange."

Hellie, 52, has spent his entire professional career in higher education. He was a tenured faculty member in theatre and English at Hiram College in Ohio from 1980 to 1989. He served first as program officer and then as vice president for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest from 1989 to 1999. The ACM is a consortium of 14 leading liberal arts colleges. Since 1999, he has been at the Kemper Foundation, which primarily supports American private colleges, giving special focus to liberal arts and the professions, ethics in business and experiential learning.

Hellie has had extensive international experience as a student, faculty member and administrator. He studied and taught abroad, and also administered off-campus study programs at a dozen sites on four continents while at the ACM.

"Linfield has been a national leader in international study, and I certainly plan to build on that tradition," Hellie said. "Tomorrow’s graduates must develop new international and multicultural competencies if they are to flourish in our globalizing economy. This will remain a priority for Linfield College."

Hellie has raised money through gifts and grants at both the ACM and the Kemper Foundation. In addition while at Kemper, he refocused the foundation’s priorities on small private colleges and organized national forums on the relationship between liberal education and business careers. He manages the Kemper scholarship/internship program for 80 undergraduates at 19 participating colleges and also mentors a group of those scholars.

Hellie has a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in theatre from Luther College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in theatre history from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has directed and acted in productions at the college, community and professional theatre level. He has remained active with Luther College and chaired an 18-month task force on the college’s liberal arts curriculum.

He is a trustee of Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina and served as a trustee of the U.S. Business School in Prague, Czech Republic, from 2000 to 2005. In 1996, Palacky University (Czech Republic) awarded him its highest honor, the Pametni Medal, for his contributions to Czech higher education.

He and his wife, Julie Olds, a licensed nursing home administrator and director of assisted living in Chicago, have been active in local cultural and religious organizations, including Chicago’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Victory Gardens Theatre and Lake View Homeless Shelter.

Hellie and his wife are no strangers to McMinnville. They visited the city several months ago while on vacation and were charmed by the town and people they met.

"Julie and I are elated by this opportunity to live in McMinnville," he said. "We fell in love with the area the first time we visited it, and we are eager to enjoy and explore the Pacific Northwest.

"Linfield has an extraordinary relationship with McMinnville," he added. "We look forward to strengthening those ties through our active involvement in the community."

The unanimous nomination of Hellie was forwarded to the Board of Trustees from an 11-member search committee comprised of faculty, administrators, trustees and a student. The committee was chaired by David Haugeberg, a local attorney and Linfield College trustee.