December 23-- The new president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon plans to arrive on campus in time to start the New Year.
By his own admission, he's not your Daddy's college president.
"I'm a grump with a long beard, 14 tattos and I look like a biker. The doctorate degree was more of a suprise to me than anybody else. I can't believe I got it in the first place. I don't look like a president. I hope people are always surprised when they find out I'm president, not disappointed, but surprised," he said.
Dr. Ergun Caner comes from Arlington Baptist College near Dallas-Fort Worth where he's been the college Provost and Academic Dean for the past two years. Prior to that he worked with the late Reverend Jerry Falwell at Liberty Baptist College in Virginia.
He was born in Stockholm, Sweden to a Turkish Muslim father who brought the family to the United States in 1969 and where the boy became a Christian.
Dr. Caner hopes he can challenge students to find their destiny.
"Every single one of them, I'm going to look in the eye and say I want you to know that God loves you. I want you to know there's a plan for your life, you have a destiny and it's bigger than you know right now. I want them to be inspired. Education is making people curious. If you can make a person so hungry to study that they study after class and years later, that's it, you've done your job," he believes.
Enrollment at Brewton-Parker has increased under retiring President Dr. Mike Simoneaux and Dr. Caner is confident the trend will continue.
"Kids come because they like the vision of the school and they like the degrees being offered and they believe in what that school is doing. And, by the way, the heartbeat of every Christian school should be their chapel. In other words, the classroom is your head, the chapel is your heart," he said.
Dr. Caner married a North Carolina girl, Jill, nineteen years ago and they have two boys, 15-year-old Braxton and nine-year-old Drake.
"My wife is from the country so Mount Vernon is a perfect fit for her and my family," he says.