Published February 5, 2015
MOUNT VERNON — Citing his ongoing brokenness following the suicide of his teenage son in July, Brewton-Parker President Ergun Caner resigned Jan. 20 to return to Texas.
Caner’s family had never moved to the south Georgia town where the college is located since he accepted the presidency on Dec. 2, 2013. He cited his November heart catheterization as being linked to the stress of losing his son in the midst of a grueling yet ultimately successful reaccreditation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“A heart catheterization, the removal of seven pints of fluid and all the tests in the world can’t resolve this one issue,” he stated in referring to the loss of his son in Texas while he worked in Georgia.
‘I am broken’
“Brewton-Parker College cannot become a healthy, growing, and stable college under the leadership of a man who is broken. And I am admitting to you that I am broken.
“I can’t get over his death, and I am not sure I want to. I do know that I cannot muster the fight needed to be the leader of our college. My family and my heart need healing, and you deserve better,” he said in a prepared statement.
He then stated he was resigning “so I can go back to Texas and heal with my wife and ten-year-old son, Drake. It is one thing to lead a college through a crisis, but this position demands a person’s full attention and full strength. At the moment, I have neither. When Braxton died, a part of me died as well.”
Caner said he will fulfill whatever obligations are necessary through the year, “though I believe attending to the needs of my family are most important to me at the moment.”
He concluded by thanking the trustees for calling him as president 15 months ago and allowing him to see “the greatest victories I’ve ever experienced in my entire 30-year professional life.”
Trustees Chairman Gary Campbell then called the board into Executive Session and, 45-minutes later, released a resolution of support for the outgoing president.
Caner’s entire first year – from December 2013 to December 2014 – was consumed with pursuing the reaccreditation of the struggling college which was already on probation when he accepted the position.
► The SACS Team visited in April 2014 and, as he said, “did not go as we had expected.”
► On June 19 the agency suspended the accreditation status which began a lengthy appeals process.
► On the early evening of July 29, shortly before the Mount Vernon community observed Stand With Brewton-Parker College Day, Braxton Caner committed suicide in Texas.
► On Sept. 29, just 103 days after learning of the suspension, SACS notified the college it would remain fully accredited through the appeals process.
► On Dec. 9, SACS – in an historic move – reaffirmed Brewton-Parker’s accreditation status without any blemish on its record. The crisis had ended five years after it began.
College is stronger for his tenure
In the midst of the year of struggle, the college experienced the conversion of more than 100 students in the Fall Revival, balanced its budget and ended the fiscal year in the black.
Caner, 50, was elected the 16th president of the college barely two months after President Mike Simoneaux announced his retirement. Simoneaux can to the college on academic loan from sister college Truett-McConnell in March 2011 and was named president six months later.
Caner’s younger brother, Emir, has serving as president of Truett-McConnell in Cleveland since August 2008.
Ergun Caner came to Brewton-Parker from the position of provost and academic dean at Arlington Baptist College in Texas. Previously he served as dean at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA.
Bass returns as interim president
On Jan. 29, Charles “Charlie” Bass was named interim BPC president of the college where he previously served as vice president.
Bass and his wife, Dianna Lynn, live in Franklin, NC where has served as headmaster at a local private Christian academy. The educator left BPC 18 months ago to accept the new position.
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