At Crowder College, Dr. Glenn Coltharp stands ready for the fall semester, his first since becoming college president. He's the eighth to serve in the role at Crowder since the college began in 1963 and he's familiar to both Crowder and education.
"I'm going into my 39th year of education," Coltharp said, noting that he's taught at every level from kindergarten to graduate school including stints as both principal and superintendent.. His teaching career began in Pittsburg, KS where he taught both fourth grade and kindergarten. He became Crowder's president on January 1. "I have eight months and sixteen days under my belt."
"When I moved to the university level, it was at Missouri Southern," Coltharp said. "The goal at that time was not to move into higher education administration but to teach teachers how to be teachers."
Coltharp spent eight years in the education department and eventually served as Dean of Education. During that time, he served on some joint projects between Crowder and MSSU which included visits to the main Crowder campus.
"I fell in love with how student centered Crowder was," Coltharp recalled. "You could feel the servant leadership philosophy on campus. I kept an eye on the place in case a position became open and thought I might apply."
When a position became open in 2012, he applied and was hired.
"I was vice-president of academic affairs for seven years and I loved every minute," Coltharp said. During that time, he worked under three different college presidents, Dr. Alan Marble (now president of MSSU), Dr. Kent Farnsworth, a former Crowder president who served as interim during the search to fill the position, and Dr. Jennifer Methvin. When Methvin announced her resignation late last year,
Coltharp decided to be considered.
"I felt like we were moving in the right direction because of (previous) leadership. We were at the time of trying to keep the momentum moving forward. In my opinion, it was the right time to continue that from within," Coltharp said. "Truthfully, I looked at it as if there were someone who would be better for the college than me, I would support that one hundred percent."
Coltharp was chosen unanimously by the Board of Trustees for the president's position from a field of candidates.
Coltharp was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma where his father was completing his doctorate at Oklahoma State University. His father, Dr. Forest Coltharp, accepted a position at Pittsburg State University in 1964 in the mathematics department. Coltharp grew up in Pittsburg and graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1977.
"I was a Purple Dragon," he said with a smile.
Coltharp went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree, his Master of Science in Elementary Education and his Specialist degree in Education and School Administration from PSU. He earned his doctorate in School Administration from Kansas State University.
His ties to PSU remain strong. His father, professor emeritus, taught mathematics there for more than thirty years. Coltharp's wife, Dr. Hazel Coltharp, teaches math on campus. So does his daughter, Jean. His parents still reside in Pittsburg. Another son, also a PSU graduate, started teaching high school math in Carl Junction, MO this week.
"There's been a Coltharp in the math department at Pitt State since 1964," he said.
Coltharp and his wife live north of Joplin so that both have an easy commute. They've lived on what he termed a family farm for more than a quarter of a century. But, with his new position, there's been one change.
"I just moved into Roughrider Village (apartment style dorm housing on campus) this summer," Coltharp said. "When we have early morning or late night activities on campus, my wife and I stay in Roughrider Village. It's the best of both worlds - we still have our home but we also have our resort."
Coltharp is also a runner but he says unlike runners who live to run, he runs to live. He took up running for health reasons and has been running a 5K run per month for the past 25 months.
He's also a Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Cardinals fan. He also values his family.
"I'm very proud of how close knit our family is. We enjoy shows or going out to eat or going on little trips. We enjoy spending that time together - it's special for us."
As for Coltharp, serving as Crowder president is a privilege.
"It's an amazing institution," he said. "It's an honor to be able to be in this position and see it in action every day. I feel as Crowder president, I have the most rewarding job in the state of Missouri."
Coltharp also praised the strength of what he called the 'Crowder family'. "It's not just the people that here everyday on campus," he said. "It's also our graduates, it's the community. Southwest Missouri would be a very different region if you took Crowder College away from it."