CarterBaldwin Seeks President for Southwest Baptist University

April 30, 2021 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search has been enlisted to help find the next president of Southwest Baptist University (SBU). Partner Bill Peterson and associate partner Scott Tanksley are spearheading the assignment. The university’s former president, Eric A. Turner, resigned effective last November after two years in the role. Brad Johnson, SBU’s vice president of university advancement, is serving as acting president. “The presidency of Southwest Baptist University requires a leader who loves the mission of shaping lives, values deep partnership with faculty, staff and students, and possesses the experience and skills to lead a complex higher education organization that supports excellence in academics, student life and athletics, all from a biblical worldview,” said the search firm.

“Today’s higher education marketplace demands a leader who understands its current challenges, but particularly as a Christian university, SBU desires a president who knows how to create attractive programs and is excited to communicate the university’s distinctiveness in promoting quality academics along with a hopeful and reassuring Christian worldview,” said CarterBaldwin.

The new president will be expected to act as the chief executive for the university. The president acts as the spiritual leader on campus and espouses a biblical worldview, with a clear conversion experience and articulation of his/her calling. The individual must also articulate and implement SBU’s vision, mission and values with internal and external stakeholders, and with the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Southwest Baptist University’s next president will also be charged with enhancing and implementing the university’s strategic plan, including vision casting about future relevance for societal needs, student success as leaders, post-graduation, changing technology and changing workplace expectations.

The president holds a prominent role in cultivating and soliciting donors, as well as providing leadership in fundraising, advancement, and development; representing the university in media affairs; and overseeing the quality of the academic and support programs of the university and all its component entities and branch campuses, among other duties and responsibilities.

SBU’s wants its next president to be an obvious Christ follower with a commitment to personal evangelism and discipleship, said CarterBaldwin Executive Search. The individual should be a bold leader with personal humility and a servant leader who is both visible and approachable. He or she must be a great administrator and builder and have the ability to vision cast the future of the university to multiple constituencies.

This leader must have the ability to ensure that a Christian mission and calling permeates. Also critical is “a heart that loves and believes that personal care for students, faculty, and staff,” said the search firm. The individual must be a compelling spokesperson for SBU with superior communication and interpersonal skills to interact effectively with the various constituencies of the university, alumni, media, elected officials, governmental bodies, the board of trustees, the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention and the community at large.

Candidates must be committed and active members of a Southern Baptist Convention church. They should have completed a doctorate or terminal degree. At least five years of administrative experience, 10 years preferred, in a supervisory college or university role is required. Prospects must also have experience with growth-driven success in student enrollment and retention as well as experience in managing multiple campuses and branch campuses. An enthusiastic agreement with the university statement of faith and the ability to excite others in this biblical worldview is essential.

Related: CarterBaldwin Completes Two Top Searches for Christian Organizations

Founded in 1878, Southwest Baptist University is a liberal arts university with more than 80 areas of academic study on undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. The university’s four campuses provide high-quality higher education throughout southwest and south central Missouri. The 133-acre main campus is located in Bolivar, 25 minutes north of Springfield, MO. Branch campuses are in Mountain View, Salem, and Springfield, MO.

Veteran Recruiters

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.

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).

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.

Mr. Tanksley brings experience from the corporate, non-profit, and start-up worlds. Prior to CarterBaldwin, he helped North Point Ministries plant churches across the U.S. and Canada and coached the lead pastors as they built their teams and operations. Mr. Tanksley also founded two start-ups and worked in corporate real estate, traveling the East Coast to acquire data center facilities for large telecommunications companies.

Related: CarterBaldwin Executive Search Tapped by Pepperdine University to Find Chief Diversity Officer

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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