John Anthony (Tony) Floyd, J.D., formerly executive vice president of Coker College, has moved on to take the helm as the 22nd President of Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, N.C. He started his new post on June 1 and is only the sixth president of the University since 1897.
Mars Hill University is a private, four-year liberal arts institution located in the mountains of western North Carolina, about 15 miles north of Asheville. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in western North Carolina. “Mars Hill, a school that has Baptist roots, is very much like Coker in a very small town, in a rural setting with students very much like Coker College students,” says Tony. “I felt like it was a good fit for me and Terry.”
Following a 23-year career in law, Tony joined Coker in 2012 as vice president of administration and legal counsel, and was named executive vice president in 2015. He decided to make the switch from practicing law to higher education after getting back into coaching.
Tony says, “I coached these young people,...and I realized how much I loved not practicing law and working with young people. I set out to try and change their life and they ended up changing my life...When I was able to be around those young people, that’s when I really discovered my sweet spot, so to speak.”
During his time at Coker, Tony has also served as coordinator of the political science major and coordinator of the pre-law specialization. His duties over the last six years have included serving as legal counsel and chief financial officer. He’s been responsible for strategic planning, endowment management, compliance, campus dining, facilities and grounds, student success, student and residential life, campus safety, and human resources.
“I’m going to miss the people and I’m going to miss the beauty,” says Tony. “The people I work closely with are like family and it’s going to be tough.”
The American Council on Education (ACE) named Tony an ACE Fellow for 2014-15. The ACE Fellows Program provides an immersive leadership training experience to senior leaders to help prepare them for the challenges facing higher education, including preparation to serve as a college president.
Tony has lived in Hartsville for 54 years. His parents live in Hartsville and he raised his children here, as well. He earned his bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of South Carolina, and his juris doctor from Campbell University. Tony and his wife, Terry, have two daughters, Olivia, who is currently enrolled in Coker’s Masters of Science in Management and Leadership program, and Sarah, who graduated from Coker in May.
“My hope and dream is that [Coker] will continue to grow and be the anchor of Hartsville and the Pee Dee,” says Tony. “It is my hope that Coker will continue to be open to innovation and futuristic thinking, and will continue to invest in the downtown and working with the downtown leaders and our legislative delegation.”