Southwest Baptist University this morning held a ceremony to introduce its next president.
Rick Melson joins the Bolivar university from Cedarville University in Ohio, where he's worked for five years as vice president of advancement and an associate professor of business administration, according to a news release.
David Brown, an SBU Board of Trustees member and chair of the presidential search committee, said during a livestreamed news conference that the board yesterday unanimously approved Melson as president. He starts Sept. 7, said SBU spokesperson Charlotte Marsch.
"There is a great history at this school," Melson said at the news conference. "It is a privilege and a joy and an honor."
The Christian university's 26th president, Melson succeeds Eric Turner, who resigned from the university last year. At the time, Turner said, “As the university and Missouri Baptist Convention rearticulate their long-standing relationship, I think it is vital for the two entities to have a fresh start with a new leader at the helm." Brad Johnson, SBU’s vice president of institutional advancement, led the university in the interim.
SBU earlier this year entered a contract with Atlanta-based executive search firm CarterBaldwin to find its new president.
Brown said the search committee received 34 applications, and the pool first was narrowed to eight finalists. In late July, the committee conducted interviews with a further- narrowed pool of six candidates, and Brown said Melson emerged as the clear choice.
"We feel he is poised to bring innovation and creativity," said SBU board Chair Eddie Bumpers, at the news conference.
Melson’s appointment to SBU represents his first time as a university president.
He previously served as vice president of advancement and external relations at Houghton College and president and CEO of the Willard J. Houghton Foundation in New York. As part of his education, he completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in educational management and advancement leadership, according to the release.
The release included recommendations on Melson from R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and John Piper, pastor emeritus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
“I pray God’s blessing upon Southwest Baptist University and its new president, Rick Melson," Mohler said in the release. "Rick is a leader of great promise."
Piper said he "prayed for Rick to be given the right opportunity to stretch his amazing wings. You are hiring a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-based servant.”
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