University of the Ozarks has named Dr. Travis Feezell as its new provost. Currently an associate professor of business and chair of the Department of Sport and Motorsports Management at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., Feezell will begin his new duties on June 16.
Feezell succeeds Dr. Daniel Taddie, who is retiring after 12 years as the university’s chief academic administrator.
Feezell holds an Ed.D. in education and has more than 20 years of experience in higher education as an academic administrator, faculty member, athletic director and baseball coach. He also currently serves as special assistant to the president for strategic planning at Belmont Abbey and previously served as interim chair for the Department of Business and interim director of athletics at the college.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Feezell and his family to the University of the Ozarks,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “Dr. Feezell brings a record of more than 20 years of higher education leadership and teaching to the campus. His experience developing curriculum and programs of study in specialty areas of management like sports management and motorsports management will assist us as we look to the future and ascertain what programs and degrees we wish to offer. He has demonstrated a strong commitment to the co-curricular experience and not only understands but fully appreciates the role of a liberal arts education in a traditional faith based residential environment. I am very excited to welcome him to the team.”
Following a nationwide search, Feezell was selected from a pool of more than 70 candidates. He was one of three finalists who visited campus in late April to interview with the search committee and meet with faculty, staff and students.
“I am thrilled and honored to accept this position. From the moment I came to campus I sensed something uniquely special about University of the Ozarks,” Feezell said. “It was immediately evident in both the quality of the students, faculty, staff, as well as the leadership of President Dunsworth and his cabinet. I want to especially thank President Dunsworth for this opportunity. He has a wonderful sense of the capacity and the possibility of the University of the Ozarks and I am grateful to be a part of his leadership team moving forward. I also want to thank the many faculty and staff I met during the interview process. They expressed so much love and investment in the community and in providing an important student development experience; that enthusiasm was infectious. In the end, I feel pulled and called to this great institution at this time. Higher education is filled with so many moving parts these days but University of the Ozarks is doing so many things well and positioned to do even more in the future.”
At Belmont Abbey, a private, liberal arts Catholic college of approximately 1,600 students, Feezell helped establish and develop the sport management and motorsports management academic programs before moving into the chair position of the department. As special assistant to the president for strategic planning, he helped lead the college through comprehensive strategic planning efforts, including curriculum development, financing, student life and retention, and admissions. He was also awarded the Belmont Abbey College Spirit of St. Benedict Award in 2012, which is the highest award for service to the college, and the Adrian Faculty Excellence Award in 2011.
Feezell received his doctoral degree in education from the University of Idaho in 2005. In addition, he received his master’s degree in medieval British studies from the University of Wales-Cardiff in 1992 and his undergraduate degree in English from the University of Wyoming in 1990. Prior to arriving at Belmont Abbey, he taught at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and was the director of athletics at Macalester College in Minnesota. He also served as a faculty member, chair of the Department of Sports Studies, director of athletics and head baseball coach at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. A former Rhodes Scholar national finalist, Feezell is considered a leading scholar and speaker on international issues of sport culture.
The provost is the second-highest ranking officer at Ozarks and is the chief academic officer. The provost is responsible for the overall supervision of all academic programs, academic promotion and tenure decisions, and academic strategic planning and policies. Feezell said “this is an ideal and aspirational position for me, one that fits my unique background in the liberal arts and professional studies, curriculum development and academic leadership.”
“In the short-term I want to take some time to get to know people better. I believe deeply in a relationship-based leadership model so I want to know the concerns, the loves, and the priorities of the people in this community,” he said. “I want to learn the culture of the institution. In the long-term I believe it will be important to engage in a strategic planning process that will articulate the vision and strengths of the institution and how we might provide a powerful educational experience to students, particularly to students who may not have access to private and personal higher education. I also want to think about the ways in which we can continue to help our students engage in a globalized world. Even though our campus resides in a small town in Arkansas, our students will live in a hyper-connected and globalized world going forward.”
Feezell and his wife, Carol, have four children: Jackson, 19, who just completed his freshman year at Emory and Henry College in Virginia; Delaney, 16; Colby, 11; and Cooper, 9.