Commencement Speaker

Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten
President, Ferrum College

Dr. Jennifer BraatenDR. JENNIFER L. BRAATEN was named the first woman president of Ferrum College in 2002. She was previously the first woman to lead Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska.  Before Midland she served as Provost, Academic Dean and a professor of history at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.  She is a graduate summa cum laude of the University of Minnesota and received her Masters of Education with highest honors and Ed.D. with high distinction from Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Braaten was recognized by The Roanoker magazine as a top female leader in the southwest Virginia region.  She is widely sought as a speaker and has lectured at over 100 churches, colleges, high schools, and leadership and civic events.  Under her leadership, Ferrum has enhanced academic programs, added athletic teams, increased enrollment and the endowment, and invested over $30 million in campus renovations and upgrades. After taking the helm at Ferrum she successfully completed the Raising the Bar Capital Campaign and the Centennial Campaign. She is the architect of one of the most comprehensive small campus “makeovers” in the region, creating a replicable facilities model that includes new modular-built residence halls, a dramatically expanded student center, an athletic complex, Learning Commons’ space in the library, and major laboratory additions to Garber Science Hall.  

Partnerships within the community and the region have been a strong focus for Dr. Braaten.  She spearheaded the creation of the Tri Area Community Health Center in lower Vaughn Chapel, the campus YMCA, the acquisition of a $1M gift to construct a new building for the Free Clinic of Franklin County, and the conversion of adjacent properties into the Ferrum Campus Safety Complex, the Ferrum Mercantile, and the “Ferrum Outdoors House.” 

Dr. Braaten has been chair of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS), the Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators, Inc. (EIIA), and the USA South Athletic Conference. She is also past chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) and the Lutheran Community Foundation in Minnesota. Dr. Braaten has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Colleges and Universities of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC), the International Association of Methodist Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities (NAICU), Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and the Appalachian College Association (ACA).

Dr. Braaten and her husband, Reverend Conrad A. Braaten, retired Senior Pastor of Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, have two children, Kirsten B. Stanley, Executive Vice President of Meisner Electric Company and President of the Junior League of Boca Raton, Florida, and Dr. Conrad D. Braaten, in residency at Unity Health, Searcy Medical Center, Searcy, Arkansas.