Notre Dame Provost Nathan O. Hatch named 13th President of Wake Forest University

By Kevin Cox
January 21, 2005

Nathan O. Hatch, provost of the University of Notre Dame and one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America, will become Wake Forest University’s 13th president on July 1.

Nathan O. Hatch

Nathan O. Hatch

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Following a 10-month national search, the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees elected Hatch, a 58-year-old native of Columbia, S.C., as president in a special meeting on Jan. 21 at the university. The university’s 12-member presidential search committee—comprised of trustees, faculty members, alumni and a student—unanimously recommended Hatch to the board of trustees.

Hatch will succeed Thomas K. Hearn Jr., Wake Forest’s president since 1983, who announced last April that he would retire June 30, 2005.

Murray C. Greason Jr., chairman of the board of trustees and the presidential search committee, announced Hatch’s election at an afternoon news conference at Wake Forest, where Hatch also was introduced.

"Dr. Hatch is provost of the University of Notre Dame, an institution that some of you will recognize as having certain similarities to Wake Forest, no small factor in our interest in him," Greason said. "It was clear from the moment we identified him as a prospective candidate that Dr. Hatch did not simply possess the qualities and experience we were seeking, but that he is a genuine role model of the teacher-scholar, a highly valued ideal at Wake Forest."

Greason also remarked that Hatch "has extensive experience in strategic planning and in strengthening undergraduate, graduate and professional education."

Greason added that the search committee members valued finding someone who would fit well with the "unique culture and heritage of Wake Forest."

Visits with Hatch and his wife, Julie Hatch, confirmed "that their personalities and their values fit wonderfully with the Wake Forest culture," Greason said.

After being introduced, Hatch addressed members of the media and several members of the university community present at the news conference.

"I am deeply honored that the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees has entrusted me with serving this magnificent university. I am grateful for their confidence and exhilarated by the challenge," Hatch said.

"Wake Forest has rapidly advanced as a center of learning for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students; and has sustained a deep commitment to students," Hatch continued. "I look forward to getting to know the faculty and students of the Wake Forest community and to working together to make real the aspirations that we share."

Hatch, Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History at Notre Dame, became the university’s provost in 1996. As provost, Hatch is Notre Dame’s second ranking officer, and at the direction of the president, exercises overall responsibility for the academic enterprise.

A Presbyterian, Hatch has spent nearly his entire career as a professor and administrator at Notre Dame, a Catholic university located in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame is organized into four undergraduate colleges—Arts and Letters, Science, Engineering, and the Mendoza College of Business—the School of Architecture, the Law School, the Graduate School, 10 major research institutes, more than 40 centers and special programs, and the university library system. Fall 2004 total enrollment at Notre Dame was 11,479. Wake Forest’s total enrollment for fall 2004 was 6,504.

Hatch joined Notre Dame’s history faculty in 1975 and was appointed to the Tackes chair in 1999. Regularly cited as one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America, Hatch won national acclaim for his 1989 book, "The Democratization of American Christianity." It garnered three major prizes and was chosen in a survey of 2,000 historians and sociologists as one of the two most important books in the study of American religion. Hatch is also the author and editor of other books on religion, and he has written numerous articles on the subject.

The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, president of Notre Dame, described Hatch as "a person of deep faith and strong academic achievement."

"I have come to admire his integrity and high moral standards, his skill as an articulate spokesperson for the university, his capacity for building consensus and his ability to create a productive and supportive work environment," Malloy said. "He and his wonderful wife, Julie, have been a great gift to Notre Dame. I join all of their colleagues and friends here in wishing them well as they take on new challenges and opportunities at Wake Forest University."

Hatch received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Wheaton College in Illinois and Master of Arts and doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. He was also awarded post-doctoral research fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University.

Since his appointment as provost, Hatch has concentrated his focus on three areas: the pursuit of outstanding faculty; the revitalization of undergraduate education, including the creation of the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning and new opportunities in off-campus and international studies; and the enhancement of academic centers of excellence, including the Keough Institute for Irish Studies, the Institute for Latino Studies, the Keck Center for Transgene Research, and the Center for Nanoscience and Technology.

Hatch also devoted attention to attracting new leaders to Notre Dame, including the deans of its four undergraduate colleges and the Notre Dame Law School.

Recently, Hatch has coordinated Notre Dame’s 10-year strategic planning process that was approved by the university’s trustees in May 2004. The plan constitutes the backbone of a new, comprehensive fund-raising campaign of $1.5 billion that began last summer.

Hatch previously served as Notre Dame’s vice president for graduate studies and research, acting dean of the College of Arts and Letters, associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and director of the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

While directing the history department’s graduate studies, Hatch was presented with the Paul Fenlon Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Hatch is a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-person advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He is a former president of the American Society of Church History and has served on its executive council.

Active in civic affairs in South Bend, Ind., Hatch has served as chair of the St. Joseph Medical Center board. He has also served on the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army.

He and his wife have three children—Gregg, a 1997 graduate of Notre Dame; David, a 2000 Notre Dame graduate; and Beth, a student at Notre Dame.

Hatch was nominated as president to the Wake Forest Board of Trustees by a search committee that included: Murray C. Greason Jr., chair; Michele K. Gillespie, associate professor of history (Reynolda Campus); Judy Karen Brunso-Bechtold, professor of neurobiology and anatomy (Bowman Gray Campus); James A. Dean, student trustee; trustees Simpson O. "Skip" Brown Jr., William B. Greene Jr., Deborah Dixon Lambert Jr., L. Glenn Orr Jr. and K. Wayne Smith; Bobbi Acord, president of the university’s Law Alumni Council; Dr. C. Douglas Maynard, professor emeritus of radiology; and Edwin G. Wilson, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of English. Greason, Acord, Brown, Greene, Lambert, Maynard, Smith and Wilson are graduates of Wake Forest.

Nathan O. Hatch

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