Croom appointed president at UMO

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An educator with three-plus decades of experience and Wayne County native, Dr. H. Edward Croom, has been officially appointed president of the University of Mount Olive.

The institution’s Board of Trustees made the announcement last week.

Croom initially served as the university’s provost and chief academic officer for two months before taking over as interim president in March.

“It’s a great honor. The last six months have provided me an opportunity to get to know the leadership team, and gain a great understanding of the challenges that institutions of higher education are facing,” said Croom, who is just the sixth president to serve at the university’s helm since 1951.

“I look forward to the challenge of leading UMO and believe that we are poised to expand our educational offerings to meet the needs of students wherever they may be.”

Since his arrival, Croom has been in a whirlwind.

A horrific wreck claimed the lives of four student-athletes in mid-March.

At the same time, COVID-19 slowed the world to a glacial pace and changed almost every facet of the school’s operations. As of Oct. 23, five employees and 34 students are either in isolation or quarantine due to the virus.

Faculty, staff and athletics endured a fiscal adjustment that included furloughs. The cutbacks are expected to help the school financially since it’s in an accreditation year.

Croom lauded the university’s workforce for their loyal efforts.

“This pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, including athletics,” Croom said. “However, all of our different departments have adapted quickly to accommodate our students. Faculty have adjusted to teaching either online or in a hybrid format.

“Student Services has implemented practices to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus and the list goes on. However, we have continued to provide a quality experience for our students.”

The Board of Trustees describes Croom as a highly-respected leader and visionary.

A holder of master’s degrees from N.C. State and East Carolina University, Croom has developed an extensive knowledge in several aspects of university operations.

Most notable, he’s worked to build bridges of support with both stakeholders and community members. Croom has managed more than $350 million federal, state and local funds. He’s used that experience as a springboard to train school leaders throughout the eastern United States.

“His range of knowledge, service and accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable,” said Earl W. Worley, chair of the Board of Trustees.

“We are delighted that he has accepted the presidency position and we are confident that he is uniquely positioned to make an immediate impact — building on UMO’s momentum and advancing our mission to serve our students, our founding church and our communities.”

Croom and his family — wife, Phyllis, and sons, Philip and Jonathan — are members of Pleasant Hill Original Free Will Baptist Church. Dr. Croom serves on the board of deacons and is a Sunday school teacher. Jon Croom is a 2018 grad of UMO.

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