Eric Anderson expected to spend his academic career teaching history in the Napa Valley, a place he laughingly calls an academic “hardship post.”
And, for 30 years he did just that, writing, developing an honors program and chairing his department at Seventh-day Adventist-owned Pacific Union College, a few miles from St. Helena in Northern California’s wine country.
Then Southwestern Adventist University made Anderson an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Now, after nine years after making a sharp career turn that brought him to Keene as president of Johnson County’s only four-year university, Anderson and his wife plan to put Texas in the rear view mirror and head back to the Napa Valley, the grandkids and retirement at the semester’s end.
Anderson is looking forward to getting back to the house they bought in California in 1978, but the folks who worked with him at the little school on the hill seem to be reluctant to see him go.
“They understand, but they’re sad,” Amy Rosenthal, vice president for academic administration, said. “They were hoping he would stay a little longer.
“There just had been a period when the administration and the faculty had just not jelled,” before Anderson arrived, Rosenthal said. “That was a time of some growing pains.”
Karl Konrad, a retired SWAU dean of the faculty and chemistry professor, concurred.
“It was kind of a critical year when he came in 2005,” Konrad said. “We’d been going through a period of declining enrollment.”
Konrad also said the campus had high turnover a the top.
And the school was also due for the regional accrediting association to make its once-a-decade evaluation of the university.
“We hadn’t explained why we had four presidents in five years,” Konrad said.
But Anderson did more than provide stability.