HANNIBAL, Mo. (BP) — After a seven-month long search, Hannibal-LaGrange University trustees unanimously elected Anthony Allen as HLGU’s 17th president.
The announcement came at the end of spring commencement May 5 at the Hannibal, Mo., campus. Allen was elected in a special called business meeting May 4.
Allen, senior vice president of administration and chief administrative officer at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, will fill the role left by Woody Burt, who will retire as president Aug. 31. Allen, 43, also teaches Christian education courses at MBTS.
Allen, a North Carolina native, was raised in a Christian home. He played football four years at Duke University where he was a defensive tackle and graduated with a degree in history and religion. He earned both the master of divinity with biblical languages and the master of theology in Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He completed his doctorate in higher education administration at North Carolina State University in Raleigh in 2011.
A member of Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., Allen began at Midwestern Seminary in 2007 as senior vice president for administration and the chief administrative officer. He became senior vice president for institutional advancement in 2007. In 2012, Allen returned to his previous job title as senior VP for administration and chief administrative officer.
Allen brings financial development and recruitment skills to HLGU from his previous 16 years of work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement and then vice president for financial development. He also served SEBTS as director of admissions and student recruitment.
Allen and his wife Stacy have five children, Bethany, Evan, Leighton, Annaliese and Brinley.
In a statement released by HLGU trustees after their May 4 meeting, Allen spoke about his impressions of the Baptist college and his vision for the future. “I appreciate very much its unwavering commitment to veritas or ‘truth’ and an unashamed commitment to our Baptist heritage,” Allen said.
Terry M. Buster Sr., chairman of HLG’s trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Palmyra, Mo., said in the statement he believes the search process revealed “God’s hand in every step of the way.”
“I’m excited about Dr. Allen coming as the new president of HLG University,” Buster said. “After a unanimous vote of the board of trustees we just feel like God’s moving us forward and continuing the progress, continuing the heritage, and continuing the history — and launching us into a shared vision and into new vistas and exciting growth at Hannibal-LaGrange University.”
Giving two reasons for why he considered coming to the university, Allen said first HLG “has a historic Christian commitment.”
This historic past has preserved the institution, while many have fallen by the wayside or jettisoned their Christian commitment and denominational accountability, he said.
Second, Allen said HLGU has “a denominational fidelity and accountability to the Missouri Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“As a Baptist university, we have an obligation and a sacred trust to train the next generation of men and women to serve in a variety of vocations and ministerial service,” he said.
Describing his vision for HLGU’s future as a “shared vision,” Allen said is it “one that is born out of a heart for Christian education that holds high the Word of God and the revelation of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Christian higher education should be the best education because we recognize that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Allen said. “We believe in divine truth revealed through Scripture, which informs our observations of the material world we live in,” he said, citing Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Kevin Shrum, chairman of Midwestern Seminary’s trustees, said they are sad to lose Allen’s presence on their campus.
“Anthony Allen has done a great job in helping bring stability and calm during the presidential transition period at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Allen’s omni-competence in many areas of leadership has helped stabilize our administrative staff and faculty communities. Congratulations to Dr. Allen and the Hannibal-LaGrange University community on his appointment as HLGU’s new president. Under his leadership, HLGU’s best days lay ahead.”
Buster said plans are for Burt to be named president emeritus once Allen begins as president in June or July.
Since coming to then-named Hannibal-LaGrange College as a professor over 30 years ago, Burt watched the school grow from a two-year institution with less than 400 students to a four-year university with fall enrollment this fall expected to top 1,200. During his tenure with HLGU, Burt taught speech communications and served as admissions director, dean of students, registrar, academic dean, chief development officer, executive vice president, and president. He and his wife Katherine who has taught English at HLGU, will guest-teach at as sister university in Cambridge, England, this fall. She will return for the spring 2013 semester before retiring next May.
Brian Koonce is a staff writer with The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.