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Melissa Taverner Named President of Lyon College

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Melissa Taverner has been named president of Lyon College after holding the position on an interim basis for about six months.

The private college’s board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Taverner, who was previously provost and dean of faculty. 

She succeeds W. Joseph King, who resigned in August amid controversy over comments he made to the Chronicle of Higher Education. King was quoted in an article saying the school in Batesville was surrounded by “angry, disenfranchised” citizenry with “a large white-supremacist population.” 

In Taverner’s time as interim president, she has overseen the initial steps of the college’s transition to Division III athletics and worked with stakeholders on a plan to expand the college’s academic offerings. The college announced this week that it’s starting a nursing partnership with White River Health System and is looking to add select graduate programs. 

Taverner said in a news release that she plans to continue expanding opportunities for students. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with exceptional faculty, staff and students at Lyon during my time as Provost, and I’m excited to collaborate with them in this new role as we work toward not only preserving the Lyon legacy but also ensuring the College’s bright future,” she said.

Taverner, a Virginia native, joined the college in 2017. She worked with the faculty to establish an Army ROTC/military science and leadership concentration, a major/minor in exercise science, a major in anthropology, and a major in communications studies.

Another initiative involving Taverner is the revision of the school’s core curriculum. The college’s mission, goals and student learning outcomes have been established and the work of curriculum construction is ongoing, according to the release. 

Taverner has also created a student success committee with representation from academics, student life, athletics, admissions and institutional research. 

Before joining Lyon, Taverner was an associate professor of biology at Emory & Henry College, a private liberal arts college in Emory, Virginia, where she spent 22 years of her career. She was the college’s interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college from 2016-2017.

Taverner holds a doctorate in environmental science from the University of Virginia, a master’s in virology from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and a bachelor’s in biology from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. 

She’s the 19th president of Lyon College. The college has an enrollment of about 600. 

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