Goucher College announced Thursday that Kent Devereaux, currently the president of a small New Hampshire arts college, will take over as its new president in July.
Having led the New Hampshire Institute of Art during a time when the college overhauled its curriculum, doubled the number of applications and tripled fundraising, Devereaux has many of the skills Goucher was looking for as it adjusts to an evolving landscape in higher education. Devereaux, 61, said he would continue to explore ways the small Towson college can adapt, while increasing its revenue streams and using new techniques to attract students.
“Just as Goucher emphasizes in its curriculum, President-Designate Devereaux is a complex problem solver,” said Ruth S. Lenrow, chair of the board of trustees at Goucher, which serves 1,500 students.
Lenrow declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement saying Devereaux “understands the complicated and changing landscape of higher education. He is fully committed to the liberal arts and to Goucher’s role in educating our next generation.”
Devereaux succeeds Jose Bowen, who is leaving at the end of June. Bowen announced his decision to step down last fall.
At the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Devereaux operated in a region that experiencing a dramatic drop in the number of high school graduates and the closure or merger of several colleges in New Hampshire and Vermont.
He took action to stem the losses by attracting students from many more states and increasing enrollment to 450 students. Under Devereaux, the percentage of students who came from New Hampshire high schools dropped from 79 percent to 42 percent. The demographic shift is not unique to New England, he said, and nationally there soon will be more seats in colleges than there are students to fill them.
“I think what is common across all of the colleges today is that America’s demographic is changing. You can either embrace that or you can deny it. And if you deny it you are going to go out of business,” Devereaux said. “And if you embrace it you realize that we have to make a stronger commitment to diversity. We have to make a stronger commitment to access and affordability and it means that we have to look at new revenue streams.”
The New Hampshire Institute of Art is merging with New England College in the next two weeks, with the arts school in Manchester, N.H., to operate as a subsidiary to New England College in nearby Henniker, N.H.
“I initiated merger discussions with New England College in December 2017 knowing full well that by doing so I would be merging myself out of a job,” he said.
His responsibilities there end just as he begins at Goucher.
Devereaux said he was attracted to Goucher because it is a nationally known institution that already has made significant changes to its curriculum, and emphasizes getting every student to go abroad for a semester.
“The most exceptional times in my life have been abroad,” he said.
Between a stint as a Fulbright fellow and as senior vice president for editorial and product development for the Encyclopedia Britannica, he has spent time in Australia, Indonesia and India. He said he feels as though “this is an experience I want every student to have.”
Devereaux has a background in the arts and management. Before the New Hampshire job, he served as chair of the department of music at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and as senior vice president and dean of curriculum at Kaplan University, Purdue University’s online school.
He wants to get to know Goucher and its campus before making any judgments about the future. The school’s endowment, at $214 million, is in the top quartile of private colleges, and he said growing it won’t be his focus immediately.
Goucher, he said, “has done some amazing work in the last few years to pivot to the new economy.”
The college responded to a national discussion about the relevance of the liberal arts by reformulating courses and allowing students to take multi-disciplinary classes instead of introductory classes in several disciplines outside their majors.
Goucher’s board of trustees voted Wednesday night on his appointment. He will begin his job July 1, and will live on Goucher’s campus with his wife, Jan Sutcliffe, a documentary film editor.
“I am excited about the opportunity because of Goucher’s focus on social justice and being associated with a really exciting institution in a city. We are very excited to be part of the Baltimore community,” he said, noting that they have friends in the region and a son in New York.
He and his wife lived for 30 years in Chicago, before moving to New Hampshire for five years.
Devereaux received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in art and technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1985. He taught for many years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at the California Institute of the Arts.