Although Kerry Prather has worked at Franklin College since 1982, mostly as a men’s basketball coach and athletic director, becoming the president of the college was never on his radar, he said. Now, he will be president until at least 2024, the Board of Trustees announced this week.
A week following the arrest and termination of former President Thomas Minar in January 2020, he was selected as acting president by the Board of Trustees. A month later, “acting” was dropped from his title and the search for a new president that began before Minar’s arrest was suspended.
Prather said he is still often surprised to be in the position.
“My perspective on this from the outset was to just simply do the best job that I can for as long as that's helpful,” Prather said. “And so that will be a little bit longer.”
He began leading the college just months before students were sent home due to pandemic concerns in March 2020. He said this did cause challenges, but recognized that the virus posed problems for everyone.
“The pandemic has added, I think, an enormous amount of stress and anxiety for everybody,” Prather said. “Nothing unique about me, except being responsible for 1,000 students and several hundred employees.”
He said the wonderful people at Franklin College get him out of bed each morning and have kept him at the college for nearly 40 years.
In a press release from the college, Jim Due, the chair of the Franklin College Board of Trustees, applauded Prather’s first year as president.
“The Franklin College Board of Trustees recognizes that President Prather has provided unity and stability, transparent leadership, institutional vision and community collaboration during his presidential tenure, all of which are needed in today’s challenging higher education environment,” Due said. “He has done a remarkable job,including the navigation of COVID-19.”
Prather joked that he would not have taken the offer to extend his term if he didn’t enjoy the job and said he is excited to see Franklin grow further. While other schools are struggling financially due to the pandemic, he said Franklin College is actually thriving.
“We've got so many things happening in terms of new initiatives and new progress,” Prather said. “I think we will look back on this hopefully as an era where Franklin really prospered.”