MOUNT OLIVE -- University of Mount Olive President Dr. David Poole and his wife, Mary, were honored Thursday night during a town-hosted reception at Steele Memorial Library.

Poole began his duties July 1 as the university's fifth president following the retirement of Dr. Philip Kertsetter at the end of June.

"We would like to thank all of you for being here tonight," Mayor Joe Scott said. "We want you to meet David and Mary. We want to welcome them to our community.

"Our home is your home, and we are just thrilled to have you here."

At-large commissioner Steve Wiggins gave the invocation.

Scott's wife, Becky, hosted the event from the cooking to the decorating.

"Mary and I are thrilled to be a part of the community," Poole said. "I tell you, the warm welcome that this community, the university, the business community, all of them have given us is so great. It has been overwhelming in such a wonderful way.

"What we kept telling people, we bought a one-way ticket here. We are here. We are excited about helping take the University of Mount Olive to the next level. We know that to be able to do that is in partnership with the city, with the county, with the various constituencies in this community."

As a university president it is about the conditions for success, Poole said.

"Are the conditions there where you can actually add value?" he said. "We want to feel like the conditions for success are tremendous here. So many people are ready for that next level."

The university has a phenomenal history, Poole said, citing the achievements of previous presidents Dr. Burkette Raper, Dr. Bill Byrd and Kertsetter.

"What a wonderful group to follow," he said. "It is kind of like a relay race. Each one took up that charge and certainly Dr. Raper in a very big way in the very beginning. So we are in that next part of the race.

"People are really going to hear about this institution, not that they don't now, but I tell you it is just tremendous."

Poole has more than 36 years of experience in the business and education environment with significant experience in academic and enrollment management, marketing administration, operations, customer relationship management, information technology services and program development.

He most recently served as vice president for online and professional studies and as an associate professor of leadership and management at California Baptist University.

Over the past eight years, his focus has been the establishment and oversight of CBU's online, hybrid and education center programs, with a track record of growth.

During this time, the division has increased from 589 students to serving approximately 4,000 from 40 states. Under his leadership, CBU's academic programs increased from 12 majors and concentrations at the undergraduate level to 42 and expanded to include graduate and doctoral degrees.

Before his appointment at CBU, Poole also served as vice president for institutional advancement at Hope International University, associate dean for graduate and executive programs for the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, and vice president of marketing and product development at Virtual CEO.

Poole served 13 years as executive director for executive programs with Pepperdine University.

In 1999, under his leadership, the Executive MBA program was recognized by Business Week as one of the "Leading Twenty" in the nation.

In 2001, the program was ranked 11th globally, fourth in strategy, and first in ethics, according to the announcement.

From 1998 to 2000, Poole served as chairman of the board of trustees for the Executive MBA Council, which is a global organization representing 19 countries encompassing a membership of more than 200 of the top business schools in the world.

In addition to his formal appointments, he has held board positions with a number of nonprofit organizations.

He received both his master of science degree in administration and technology and his bachelor of arts degree in music in education from Pepperdine University.

He completed his doctorate in higher education leadership at California State University Fullerton, and is a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management.

Poole has been married to his wife, Mary, a retired educator, for 32 years. They have three adult daughters.