Dr. Darrel D. Colson

Dr. Darrel D. Colson became the 17th president of Wartburg College on July 1, 2009 after seven years as the chief academic officer — provost and dean of the college — at Centenary College of Louisiana in his hometown of Shreveport.

Colson was born in Venezuela in 1955. He is a 1977 graduate of Louisiana State University, with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, graduating summa cum laude with college and departmental honors.

Colson was a first-generation college student when he enrolled at LSU. He has described his undergraduate years as “a terrific experience — even a transformative one. Somewhat serendipitously I fell into some fine liberal-arts classes and grew close to some dedicated teachers in English, history, philosophy, and political science. Their classes opened up new worlds, developing within me not only a set of useful skills, but an almost unquenchable curiosity for all things under the sun.”

His experience at LSU laid the foundation for his career in higher education. Colson said he became a college professor “so that I could help young people have the same life-changing experiences I had had in school.”

While a senior at LSU, Colson married his high school sweetheart, Christy Skrivanos, who was a junior. Colson worked at the Louisiana Department of Revenue for a year, while Christy earned her degree in education. She has since taught in elementary schools and been a preschool administrator.

Colson earned both his master of arts degree in philosophy (1981) and his Ph.D. in philosophy with a minor in theology (1987) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He taught courses in philosophy, logic, ethics and world religion at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., from 1982-87.

In 1987, Colson returned to Louisiana to become one of the founding faculty at the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, an experimental honors college in the liberal arts and sciences established by the state board of regents. He taught there for nine years (fall 1987 to spring 1997), including courses on great books, philosophy, ethics and the Senior Colloquium: Liberty and the First Amendment. During that time, he also was coordinator of curriculum (1988-91), associate director of the college (1992-93) and president of the Northwestern State University Faculty Senate  (1995-96).

Colson accepted a position in 1996 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., near Los Angeles as the Fletcher Jones Chair of Great Books. In addition to the Great Books Colloquium, he taught courses on Ancient Philosophy and Aristotle. He also served as president-elect of the Seaver Faculty Association (2001-02).

He again returned to Louisiana in 2002 to become provost and dean of the college at Centenary. Colson’s administrative responsibilities included overseeing all academic programs, institutional research, information technology, admissions, financial aid, the registrar’s office, Intercultural/International study, service learning, the Christian Leadership Center and the Academic Support Center. Even as an administrator, he continued to teach a philosophy class every year.

After an extensive search, he was elected president of Wartburg College on May 4, 2009 by the board of regents.

The Colsons have two children. Rachel is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and earned her law degree at Syracuse University. She is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C. Jacob is a graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He lives in Honolulu, where he runs an environmental consulting company, SRP Pacific Division, a branch of a Shreveport-based company.

The Colsons enjoy jogging, hiking and reading.