• CHARLES PAUL CONN has served as president of Lee University for thirty-three years. He became president in 1986, after fourteen years as a member of the psychology faculty at the same institution. During his administration, the university has seen significant growth: enrollment has increased from 1000 to over 5000, the physical campus has been substantially enlarged and rebuilt, and the school’s reputation as a regional leader has been established.


    Conn earned the Ph.D. degree in psychology from Emory University in 1974. Subsequently, he has spent three years at Harvard University as a postdoctoral student in the Graduate School of Education, studying with Lawrence Kohlberg (1978), David Breneman (1993), Derek Bok (1998), Suarez Orozco (2003), Robert Kegan (2008), Rick Weissbourd (2013), and Rick Weissbourd and Nancy Hill (2018). He was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School in 1982. He did his undergraduate work at Lee College and Georgia State University, and earned a M.A. degree at Emory.


    Since 2015, Conn has served as a Commissioner on the board of directors of the Chattanooga Airport Authority. He has served on the Board of Directors of numerous higher ed organizations, including the Council of Independent Colleges and was chairman of the President’s Council of the Southern States Athletic Conference. He served six years as a Commissioner of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, including two years as a member of the Executive Committee of the Commission on Colleges. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Appalachian Colleges Association and on the board of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. He has served three three-year terms on the national board of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.


    In 2001 Conn was the recipient of the M.C. Headrick Award, given by the Chamber of Commerce annually to the most outstanding CEO in the Cleveland/Bradley community in Tennessee; it is the only time the award has been given to a not-for-profit CEO. He also received the 1996 Otis Floyd Award from the Tennessee College Public Relations Association, given to the most outstanding higher education executive in Tennessee.


    Conn joined the Lee College faculty as an instructor in 1972 and reached the rank of Professor of Psychology twelve years later. He has served continuously at the same institution, except when engaging in postdoctoral study and a summer appointment as Visiting Professor of Psychology at Appalachian State University. As president, he regularly teaches one undergraduate psychology course each year at Lee.


    Conn is married to Darlia McLuhan; together they have three children and ten grandchildren. He is 72 years old.

    Highlights of Charles Paul Conn's writing career

    • Authored or co-authored twenty popular books between 1972 and 1988, writing about diverse people and topics. He shared bylines with recognizable names in the worlds of entertainment (singer Johnny Cash), athletics (pro quarterback Terry Bradshaw), politics (Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll), business (Rich DeVos and Jack Eckerd), and religion.
    • Published in hardcover by five national publishers: Putnam, William Morrow, Fleming H. Revell, Bantam Books, and Word. Published in mass-market paperback by Berkley, Pocket Books, and others.
    • Conn's magazine articles appeared in numerous national publications as varied as Saturday Evening Post, Eternity, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
    • Awards: Conn's interview with Johnny Cash was named by the Associated Press as the Best News Feature of the Year written for a Tennessee newspaper in 1972.
    • His book Kathy, co-authored with Barbara Miller, was named Book of the Year (biography division) by Campus Life magazine in 1980.
    • The Possible Dream was on the New York Times bestseller list for eleven weeks in 1977, and was ranked the #6 bestselling non-fiction book in the country by Publishers Weekly for the year. The Times called it "the best-selling corporate biography in publishing history." It has sold an estimated nine million English-language copies.
    • Four of Conn's books have appeared on Top Ten bestseller lists of Time magazine, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and other major lists. His books The Winners Circle (1979) and An Uncommon Freedom (1982) were ranked #10x and #14, respectively, among non-fiction bestsellers nationwide in total sales for the year.
    • Conn's books have been translated into dozens of languages for distribution around the world.
    • TV adaptations: Kathy was produced as a made-for-TV movie by Universal Studios and aired on CBS television, starring Sharon Gless and Helen Hunt. Disguised (co-authored with Pat Moore) was produced and broadcast in a movie version by Japanese television. Battle for Africa (with Brother Andrew) was adapted as a television documentary special in South Africa and Canada.