Dr. Keith Newman Inaugurated as Fifteenth President of Southern Nazarene University
The fifteenth president in the 119-year history of Southern Nazarene University, Dr. J. Keith Newman, was inaugurated on November 9, 2017 before a crowd of over 1,500 who gathered at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene to take part in the historic ceremony.
During the service, there were times of congregational singing, music by the University Chorale, and scripture read by one of Dr. Newman’s earliest pastors, Dr. Eugene Sanders (Dist. Supt., retired) and Dr. Sanders’ grandson, current student Sam O’Bannon. The passages selected by Dr. Newman were Psalm 145:1-13 and Ephesians 3:14-21.
Chosen by Dr. Newman to deliver the inaugural address, President Emeritus, Dr. Loren Gresham, was greeted by a long, standing ovation from the appreciative audience. He concluded his brief remarks with words of blessing and encouragement to Dr. and Mrs. Newman, saying, “May the years ahead be truly anointed of God, so that you will realize the best of every good possibility for your lives, and for the future of SNU.”
In his presidential response, entitled “Last Place Finish,” Dr. Newman spoke of the history and deeply rooted meaning of the university’s motto: Character – Culture – Christ. He called for a continuation of the vision and mission of Refining Character, Creating Culture, and Serving Christ. He then introduced a challenge to the university that will be echoed throughout the academic year, and beyond; a challenge to be a community that answers the invitation of Jesus who said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35. He concluded that ‘live last’ is what Jesus was calling us to do, and committed to be one who was always striving to choose to ‘live last.’
Dr. Gustavo Crocker, General Superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene, led a moving prayer of dedication as Dr. Newman and his wife, Carolyn, knelt before the congregation.
As a final, official act of inauguration, Dr. Brad Moore, Chair of the SNU Board of Trustees, presented Dr. Newman with the Presidential Medallion, to be worn at commencements, convocations and other special events. The presentation was celebrated with a standing ovation from the crowd, punctuated by a loud cheer of congratulations from the large student delegation in attendance.
As he begins his leadership of SNU, Dr. Newman invites the pastors, congregations and friends of Southern Nazarene University to join the campus family on a journey; a journey of learning to live counter-culturally, like Jesus, and Live Last! #livelast