PINEVILLE, La. (BP)–Malcolm Yarnell, 42, has been elected as the eighth president of Louisiana College, which is affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
“My wife, Karen, and I have dedicated ourselves to fulfilling God’s call on our lives wherever and whenever He sees fit,” Yarnell said after his election by the college’s trustees on Sept. 24. “We see bright days ahead for Louisiana College, and we want to add our light from Jesus Christ to this College set on a hill.”
Yarnell, who will begin his new duties at the 1,100-student college in January, currently is the director of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for Theological Research. He also is the assistant dean for theological studies at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary and an associate professor of systematic theology.
He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University, a Master of Theology from Duke Divinity School at Duke University, a Master of Divinity with biblical languages from Southwestern Seminary and a Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.
Yarnell was nominated for the college presidency by the trustees’ presidential search committee headed by Ed Tarpley, a member of First Baptist Church in Alpine.
“Dr. Yarnell is an outstanding theologian and teacher with a love for students and faculty,” Tarpley said in a news release issued by the college. “He is a man of character, integrity and wisdom, and he has a dynamic vision for the future of Louisiana College. He is a man that all Louisiana Baptists can proudly support.”
Yarnell said he anticipates “a bright future for this Louisiana Baptist Christian liberal arts college,” according to the news release. “The trustees have an innovative vision for the school which combines orthodox theology with academic excellence, and I fully support that vision.”
Bill Hudson, chairman of the Louisiana College’s trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Rayne, said, “The board supports Dr. Yarnell 100 percent. We feel there are great days ahead,” while Bill Simpson, faculty vice-chair at the college, said, “We on the faculty look forward to working with him in advancing the mission of Christian higher education at Louisiana College.”
Yarnell’s Louisiana ties include his wife, a native of Shreveport. According to the Baptist Message, the state convention’s newspaper, Yarnell is a former pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Shreveport and a former member of Summer Grove Baptist Church there, where he was ordained to the Gospel ministry. Prior to entering the ministry, he was a private financial consultant for Beryl Consultants and chief financial officer of Bossier Crossroads, Inc., in Bossier City.
Yarnell was an assistant professor of theology at Southwestern from 2000-01. From 2001-03, he served at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., as dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs. He returned to Southwestern in 2003 in his current positions. Prior to his seminary work, he had pastored at Lakeview and two other churches. He also was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for six years.
He and his wife have four children.
Yarnell succeeds Rory Lee, president of the college for the past seven years, who announced his resignation March 15, effective at the end of the academic year, to become executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Children’s Village, the children’s home affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
Yarnell, recounting his call to ministry, said, “After college and a number of years in the secular workplace, the Lord called me to fulltime Christian ministry as both a pastor and professor…. Upon long reflection, I have come to understand God’s call on my life as a professor to be an extension of my call to be a preacher of the Word.
“As a professor, I am privileged to be a servant of servants, a minister to ministers, a preacher to preachers,” he said, according to the college news release. “There is a profound need for professors who are Bible-believing, practically oriented and intellectually rigorous. I consider this God-given and church-recognized vocation an awesome privilege and responsibility.”
Yarnell also noted, “Although we did not seek this important office, the Lord has providentially called us to fulfill it….”
“It is my belief that the local churches have established Christian colleges, universities and seminaries for the task of building the Kingdom of God through the spiritual and intellectual formation of their students, and that those higher education institutions should be responsible to the churches through democratically elected trustees,” he said. “All of these tasks should be done within a New Testament doctrinal and moral framework, and solely for the glory of the Trinitarian God.”
Tarpley was asked during a news conference if he had confidence in the new president’s ability to heal tensions at the school, which have included trustee actions to establish accountability regarding the selection of classroom textbooks.
“Dr. Yarnell is a peacemaker,” Tarpley said, according to the Baptist Message. “He’s a consensus-builder. He’s going to be someone who’s going to come in and listen to everyone and do what is best for the students, the faculty and the entire Louisiana College community. He’s a great communicator. He’s a man of deep humility and someone who is easy to get to know. And I think, with all those characteristics, he’ll be able to come in and start the healing process and move Louisiana College forward.”
Tarpley also said he believes Yarnell will be able to make the right decisions to address whatever problems may exist. “I’m confident that Dr. Yarnell has the wisdom, the experience and the ability to provide the leadership that the college needs to grow,” Tarpley said. “… I think we’re very fortunate and honored to have someone of the caliber of Dr. Yarnell…. He believes that God has called him to come to Louisiana College…. He knows it’s a big job. There’s a lot of responsibility. When you talk about the life of students and the impact those students will have on the world, it is a great opportunity.”
Describing Yarnell as possessing “the character, the wisdom, the integrity to be the kind of leader that Louisiana College needs,” Tarpley said the new president has “a dynamic vision for the future of Louisiana College, and truly, better days are ahead.”
Tarpley noted, “At the end of the day, Malcolm Yarnell stood head and shoulders above everyone else. And we are simply grateful to God that he’s coming to be with us as president. He’s an outstanding young man.”
Compiled by Art Toalston, with reporting by C. Lacy Thompson of the Baptist Message.