It might have been a competition on the softball field beneath the spring sun May 17, but the presidents of Reinhardt University and Huntington University used the time to support their student-athletes and catch up.
Dr. Kina Mallard, president of Reinhardt, and Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington, have been friends for 10 years – they met when they were in similar roles at other Christian colleges. Dr. Mallard was provost of Carson-Newman University, and Dr. Emberton was provost of Lincoln Memorial University, which only are about an hour apart in Tennessee.
“When I was new, Sherilyn invited me to a monthly lunch meeting of provosts,” Dr. Mallard said, adding the provosts were all women.
The two formed a bond – they had much in common, more so with each other than the others with whom they met with each month.
“Both of us were at Christian colleges, and we had more in common and began to attend meetings together,” Dr. Emberton said. “Then we served on a provost taskforce for the Christian Colleges Association. Our friendship just grew and grew and grew. Plus, she’s just lots of fun.”
“We had similar senses of humor and similar roles,” Dr. Mallard said.
Dr. Emberton was inaugurated as Huntington University’s president in 2013, so she has become a great source of encouragement and advice for Dr. Mallard.
“Sherilyn became president first. We were both kind of on the same track and she got her presidency first in Indiana. After she saw how rewarding it was, she encouraged me to go for it, so I did. And here we are,” Dr. Mallard said.
While their roles have shifted since their friendship began to blossom 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant – they both encourage each other and offer a knowledgeable ear when the other needs advice.
“One thing about being a president is that you have to have someone away from campus you can talk to about things. They don’t know your people or what issues you’re dealing with but they can help you process and think it through,” Dr. Mallard said. “We touch base about once every two weeks to see how things are going.”
While Monday’s tournament game did not end well for the Lady Eagles, as they lost 2-1 after a walk-off homerun by Huntington’s Emily O’Leary, the presidents’ friendship will remain strong, and their long-lasting support will always be there.