June 10, 2021 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search has placed Gerson Moreno-Riaño as the 12th president of Cornerstone University, a private, non-denominational Christian institution, in Grand Rapids, MI. Partner Bill Peterson led the assignment. Dr. Moreno-Riaño succeeds Joseph M. Stowell, who retired this spring after 13 years in the role. Cornerstone’s new president previously served for over seven years as executive vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. There, he was also a tenured professor of government.
The selection of Dr. Moreno-Riaño comes after a six-month, nationwide search coordinated by Carter Baldwin. The search produced 70 viable candidates which, after extensive interviews, was narrowed to three individuals, of which the board unanimously chose Dr. Moreno-Riaño. “The board of trustees is incredibly excited to welcome Dr. Moreno-Riaño as our 12th president,” said Carole Bos, chair of the Cornerstone board of trustees. “He possesses the academic experience, vision and profound faith in Christ that will propel Cornerstone into the next decade and beyond. As an institution, we anticipate a future of immense possibilities and growth under Gerson’s leadership.”
During his tenure at Regent University, Dr. Moreno-Riaño provided strategic leadership for 10 undergraduate and graduate schools and the university library, along with the entire enrollment management team and its call center. He led a multi-year strategic growth initiative that led to the creation of Regent’s School of Nursing, founding of the College of Healthcare Sciences and increase of the university’s academic programs by 60 percent. This growth initiative led to Regent becoming one of America’s fastest growing universities, almost doubling its enrollment from 5,881 students in 2014 to over 11,000 students in the 2020-21 academic year.
Other key accomplishments include successfully leading a reaffirmation of the university’s 10-year institutional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)—the highest level of accreditation possible—as well as Regent being ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top national universities and the No. 1 online bachelor’s degree program in Virginia for close to a decade.
Dr. Moreno-Riaño also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the government department at Regent. He also previously taught as an associate professor of political science at Cedarville University.
“Cornerstone University has a rich history of educating students to influence the world for Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Moreno-Riaño. “I believe that my selection as president was a true move of God for both the committee and for myself, and I am honored and privileged to have been called to continue building upon the outstanding Christ-centered, student-focused and academically excellent foundation driven by the board of trustees, Dr. Joseph Stowell and Cornerstone’s rich eighty-year history of building lives that matter.”
“In the changing climate of higher education, Cornerstone requires a leader that understands the minutiae of day-to-day operations as well as long-term goals of a university,” Ms. Bos said. “Gerson has time and again exemplified his competencies in both realms. He is uniquely qualified to navigate Cornerstone through the challenging landscape of Christian higher education.”
CarterBaldwin Places 16th President at Oklahoma Baptist University
CarterBaldwin Executive Search has recruited Heath Thomas as the 16th president of Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). He will assume his role in January. The search was led by consultant Debby White and founding partner Price Harding.
Dr. Thomas was selected following a nine-month process, which included the partnering of CarterBaldwin and the elected presidential search committee. The committee was chaired by OBU trustee Ben Stewart and included seven additional trustees as voting members, along with four ex-officio, non-voting members representing OBU faculty, alumni, current students and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO).
Dr. Moreno-Riaño earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and pre-seminary biblical studies from Cedarville University and his master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He has secured fellowships with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the Lehrman American Studies Center hosted at Princeton University by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship at the University of Cincinnati, and more. He has also received the John Witherspoon Lecturer Award and the Templeton Enterprise Award (2nd place) from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Headquartered in Atlanta, CarterBaldwin provides executive search services in the healthcare, technology, non-profit, consumer services, industrial and media/telecom sectors. Its clients include name-brand institutions, such as KPMG, ADP, Teradata, First Data, Duke University, Pepperdine University, New York Life, Fleet Pride and Berkshire Hathaway. The firm is listed among a variety of rankings published by Hunt Scanlon Media, including its Top 50, Private Equity Power 75, and Top 40 Higher Education Search Firms.
Mr. Peterson co-leads CarterBaldwin’s non-profit and academic practice, recruiting senior leaders for state university systems, private education institutions, non-profit entities, healthcare organizations and related companies. With over 20 years of executive search experience, he has successfully led hundreds of searches for chief executive officers, presidents, provosts, vice presidents and deans for private and public institutions, as well as senior level executives for corporate clients.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media