Dr. Kina Mallard, Reinhardt University’s first woman president, is already at home in her new role and her new space.
By Rebecca Johnston
Photograhy by Kathryn Ingall
When Mallard and husband Steve Dietz first stepped onto the campus in Waleska they knew they made the right decision in choosing Reinhardt for the next step in the new college president’s career.
A key component for the couple in making a decision on where Mallard would like to accept a position was to find a school were the president and her family could be connected to campus life.
The opportunity to live on campus in the president’s home, at the center of everything, made the choice of Reinhardt even easier for Mallard and her husband.
“This is a beautiful university in a park. We love to just walk or drive across campus. And we love the convenience to have meals with the students,” Mallard said. “Everything we need is right here. We walk each day, we walk our dogs, and enjoy the opportunity to chat with students and faculty.”
Mallard’s husband agrees that being in touch with campus life is key.
“There are not many things we miss, the students are often inviting us to music performances and other activities on campus,” Dietz said. “That they want us is great.”
Named as president in February 2015, Mallard replaced Dr. Thomas Isherwood, who held the position for 13 years.
Mallard most recently spent five years as provost and vice president for academic affairs, then executive vice president and provost at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
Isherwood’s parting suggestion was that improvements be made to the president’s home, which graces the crest of a tree-covered hill in the center of campus and greets visitors with a sweeping drive and impressive white columns.
The brick home was built in the 1970s and designed from a plan one of the college’s trustees had of his old home place.
In 1997, the trustee, Peter Knox Jr. offered an unexpected gift to the college — a new president’s home. The antebellum brick house was dedicated to Hal B. Wansley, a former chairman of the trustees.
The recent renovation includes a new roof, heating and air system, refinishing of the floors, replacement of the columns and shutters and interior decorating updates.
Martha Hasty, wife of Reinhardt Board of Trustees Chairman Billy Hasty, served as the designer for the project.
The interior design update includes modern touches that blend with the traditional furnishings, which were updated to reflect the freshened look of the home.
“We did the home in an updated traditional style, it is a very traditional home, and we worked to get it so that it could be enjoyed by the family, since they live there, and also serve as a place where students and faculty and others could come and feel at home,” the designer said.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University, most of her background was via her career as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue and Bonwitt Teller in New York City, where she worked for 10 years.
Following that she was assistant general manager of the Parisian Store at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, and later for the Saks Fifth Avenue at the mall, where she handled the visual aspect of the stores. Hasty then became more involved in residential design.
“The whole house, especially the wallpaper, was dated. We lightened it up and darkened the floors,” Hasty said. “We wanted it to be more inviting.”
A custom designed walnut stain was applied to the original white oak floors. The linoleum on the kitchen floor and butler’s pantry was replaced with ceramic tile, she said.
Almost all lighting fixtures were replaced, including the chandelier in the dining room, where traditional furniture is featured. The dining chairs were reupholstered in lighter colors.
“There are a lot of rooms that flow from one to the other, and we used a linen color with the blue and gold,” the designer said.
The original Baker dining table is flanked by shield back Baker chairs with new velvet fabric seat cushions. The room has been wallpapered with a linen colored damask pattern from Theibaut, which highlights the original artwork.
“The lighting fixtures were replaced with traditional fixtures with a little contemporary twist to update and replace the ‘80s fixtures that were currently in the home,” Hasty said.
Soft yellow blues, yellows, and greens were used on the upholstered pieces and accessories throughout the house.
“The decorating was meant not to only bring it up to today’s standards, but to make it a comfortable, cozy and inviting home for its new family in residence, the students, faculty, and visitors,” the designer said.
Standout features in the living room include an antique mirror that was added above the sofa and features a musical instrument, which Hasty said went with the university’s emphasis on its music program.
Other paintings and art came from different areas on the campus or the school’s archives, including a large map hanging above the living room fireplace and several oils scattered about the main rooms.
The map over the fireplace in the living room was created by Dr. James Rowland Burgess, who served as president of Reinhardt from 1944 until 1973.
During his time as president, and the years after his retirement until his death in 1987, he dedicated himself to beautifying the campus by planting hundreds of trees and shrubs throughout the campus. The map divides the campus in to sections and within each section he marked the trees and shrubs he planted. He modified the map over the years as he added new plants.
“I went to the archives to pull things that were historical,” Hasty said. “In the back room, the old annuals are opened to pages and encased in glass and attached to the wall to show a lot of different times during the life of the university.”
Paintings used include “Landscape with Lake” by Robert Cranell Minor, (1839-1904). This piece was donated by Rudolph Childre. He also donated the chest in the foyer.
Other paintings are “Still Life with Peaches’’ by Carducius P. Ream (1837-1917) donated by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bentley and Mr. and Mrs. J. Alan Sellars, and “Portrait of a Lady” by John F .Francis (1808-1886), donated by Fred Bentley.
In addition to the interior, Martha Hasty wanted to make sure the outside and entrance were more inviting.
“I spent a lot of time with the stone stairs at the front and wanted a more inviting entrance to the house. We added another step, enlarged the columns and added trim to them. We replaced the old shutters with working shutters to make it very inviting. We wanted the house to reflect Dr. Mallard’s open and accessible approach as president,” Hasty said.
The front porch columns were enhanced with base caps and column caps, she said. The center island was re-landscaped and a new flagstone pathway was added. The lampposts were updated with round globes and clear lighting, giving a more park-like feel.
“I did a lot of research on lighting on campuses and wanted to make it work well at night so you can see it. Lighting is important to the exterior,” she said. “We made the patio more comfortable to make it more enjoyable. We opened up the views — that is part of the wonderful feel of the home. It is such a wonderful, beautiful place.”
The kitchen was gutted as well, with new cabinets along with new electrical and plumbing done throughout the house. Hasty worked with Ben Looper of Southeast Restoration on the project.
Shaker style custom cabinets and quartz countertops were added to the kitchen.
“I think they can now really use it for faculty and students, it is a lot more welcoming and has a lot of purposes,” she said.
For Dr. Mallard and her husband, the home now truly reflects their style and allows them to entertain the students and faculty as they like.
Mallard’s inauguration is set for April 15 with a week of activities on campus and in the community to celebrate the occasion.
As they look to the future, and Mallard’s inauguration, the message is clear, the new president and her husband are at home at Reinhardt University.