Though retirement is just around the corner for Dr. Kenneth Startup, he will leave one final mark on the legacy of Williams Baptist University. Startup, who was set to retire at the end of the semester, will now close out his 35-year career at Williams as interim president.
Over the course of his time at WBU, Startup has served as a professor of history, chair of the history department, chair of the Division of Arts and Sciences, and spent many years as the vice president for academic affairs. He will conclude his tenure as interim president, leading the institution as Williams searches for its newest leader.
“As interim president, I want to encourage and conserve the culture and work of Williams, in eager anticipation of the appointment of a new president. Williams has been extremely well served by its leadership, the administration, faculty, and staff. I see my primary task as one of conservation during this brief interim period,” stated Startup.
While Startup’s administrative experience will serve him, and Williams, well during the interim period, history was his first love, and just last year he returned to the classroom full-time. In fact, his affinity for history was heavily inspired by his parents and the upbringing he received.
“My father had a great love for history–it was his major in college. When I was a small boy we lived very near the vast Chickamauga National Battlefield Park in Northern Georgia. Some of my earliest memories are of playing on and around the monuments and artillery pieces there,” recalled Startup.
“Many of my summers were also spent in Virginia, where it seems that everything is tinged with history. My mother was a Virginian and, like my father, also had a real appreciation for history. I’m sure these early influences were very significant on my career-path.”
Startup’s passion for education and history have led to the publication of such works as “The Root of All Evil: The Protestant Clergy and the Economic Mind in the Old South,” and he has plans for several research and writing projects once he retires.
Though he is just getting started as interim president, he already has plans to spend time with family once he is no longer needed in the role. He and his wife of 46 years, Alice, will retire to Russellville to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“I’m very grateful that Williams allowed me to practice my profession and my calling as a historian for all these years. And, without question, I’ve been blessed to have been surrounded by so many intelligent, kind, talented, and gracious peers,” noted Startup. “These wonderful people have enriched my life immeasurably. My students at Williams have been a source of enormous satisfaction and joy across the decades.”
So yes, the history professor, who has served Williams faithfully and wisely for more than three decades, is eagerly awaiting his retirement. But not before he fulfills one more role and makes another mark on the 76-year legacy of the institution.
“Alice and I have invested our lives in Williams; we’re glad to have an opportunity to continue our service here, for just a while longer. We’ll always love Williams. We believe very good years are ahead for the institution, and in our impending retirement we’ll enjoy watching the continued progress of Williams,” he concluded.
Williams is a four-year, Christian college located at Walnut Ridge. It will officially become Williams Baptist University in July of 2018.