Alum inaugurated as Converse University president

A university president wearing academic regalia holds a ceremonial mace as others behind him applaud.
Boone Hopkins, Ph.D., holds the ceremonial mace as he is inaugurated as the president of Converse University. Hopkins and wife Chandra Hopkins, Ph.D., standing in the background with the couple's children, are alumni of Brenau University. (Photo courtesy of Converse University.)

On Friday, April 21, Converse University celebrated the investiture of its 12th president, Boone J. Hopkins, Ph.D., a 2004 graduate of Brenau University. The inauguration ceremony featured a processional that included three past presidents of Converse, local and state leaders, and delegates from nearly 50 colleges and universities across the country.

Debra Dobkins, Ph.D., dean of The Women’s College at Brenau, taught Hopkins as an undergraduate student and attended the investiture.

“I was honored to represent Brenau at the recent investiture of Boone Hopkins,” Dobkins said. “The event was particularly moving to me because I was lucky enough to have taught Boone and his wife, Dean of Converse College for Women Chandra Owenby Hopkins, Ph.D., WC ’05. Converse and her students are fortunate indeed to have this dynamic duo at the heart of their community.”

The investiture was opened by Sandra Shearouse Morelli, chair of the Converse Board of Trustees.

“I am truly excited about the university’s positive momentum and for what the future holds for our vibrant campus,” Morelli said of Converse’s future. “We have found a very special leader in Dr. Hopkins, who like those before him, brings the passion, vision, and commitment needed for this next chapter in Converse’s story.”

Hopkins’ mother, Marsha Roberts Hopkins, Ph.D., provided endearing insight into the president’s early years, sharing that “life with Boone has never been boring,” and she reminded her son to always respect the honor of the opportunity ahead.

In his remarks, Hopkins acknowledged his friend, mentor, and “consummate champion of Converse,” Jeffrey H. Barker, Ph.D., the institution’s 11th president, and he expressed gratitude for his family and colleagues. He spoke of carrying hope into future generations of Converse students, particularly on a day that celebrates Founder Dexter Edgar Converse.

“Converse has and will continue to deliver on our mission to educate students to be transformative leaders who can and will live boldly in our Founder’s Ideal: to see clearly, decide wisely, and act justly,” President Hopkins said. “Today, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the mission and vision of Converse – to learn and grow not only essential skills, intellectual depth, and knowledge, but compassion and empathy.”

Hopkins was announced as the 12th president of Converse on Feb. 25, 2022, by the Converse University Board of Trustees. Hopkins has been a dedicated member of the Converse community since 2012.

Hopkins is from Gainesville, Georgia, and graduated from Gainesville High School.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in theater from Brenau, Hopkins received his Master of Fine Arts in directing and acting pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Ph.D. in theater studies from the University of Kansas. Hopkins joined Converse in 2012 as an assistant professor of theater. He has served in numerous leadership capacities including chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance, dean of the School of the Arts, senior associate provost for Student Success, interim provost, and interim president.

Chandra Hopkins earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Brenau, a Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Ph.D. in theater and performance studies from the University of Kansas. She became the first dean of Converse College for Women in 2021.