He has a particular commitment to integrating free, robust, and rigorous academic inquiry with orthodox Christian faith and practice. He is now one of the most senior college and university presidents in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia regions.
He led King to its successful ten-year reaffirmation of regional accreditation in 2018. He has focused on ensuring the school’s financial stability in a challenging market environment, while also strengthening the school’s academic programs and standards and improving fundraising. He has also worked to reemphasize the college’s Christian and historically Presbyterian identity. President Whitaker has overseen year-on-year gains in the school’s freshman admissions to its traditional program. He has pioneered dual admission agreements with regional community colleges and has overseen the start of several new academic programs. He has also focused on facilities improvements on the Bristol campus, including renovations of the dining hall and chapel, improvements to residence halls, and rebuilding of the school’s iconic brick walkways.
President Whitaker came to King from Berry College, where he was a senior officer of the college for nearly a decade, serving as chief of staff and earlier as head of major gift fundraising. The Berry College board of trustees granted him emeritus status upon his departure for King. In 2019 he was given that school’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
Before coming to King, he served three years on Georgia’s Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission, a gubernatorial appointment. He is a member of the Georgia and Virginia bars and various higher education professional associations. He serves on the boards of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association and the Appalachian College Association.
He is also on the boards of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Bristol. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Bristol Virginia/Tennessee. He is a trustee and former board of visitors chair at Trinity School for Ministry, an Anglican and Episcopal seminary in the Pittsburgh area. He is also a trustee of Darlington School in Rome, Georgia.
President Whitaker began his higher education career after 25 years as an active-duty Navy officer and judge advocate. A designated international law specialist, he had postings at sea and ashore, with tours on both U.S. coasts and overseas in Scotland, London, and Japan. His assignments included serving as director of Navy general civil litigation, as executive officer of the Navy’s largest court-martial prosecution command, and as commanding officer of the Navy’s southeast legal services office. His decorations include two Legions of Merit and four Meritorious Service Medals, in addition to numerous other unit and personal awards. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 2007.
President Whitaker and his wife Maria reside in Bristol. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.
- B.A., Berry College
- J.D., University of Virginia
- LL.M. (International and Comparative Law), Georgetown University
- M.A. (Religion), Trinity School for Ministry
- Th.M., Duke University