SNU President Loren Gresham - Longest Tenured President among Nazarene and Oklahoma Universities

     Dr. Loren Gresham has served Southern Nazarene University (SNU) for 20 years as University President. This makes him not only the longest tenured president among the eight Nazarene institutions of higher education in North America but also the longest tenured President currently serving at any college or university in Oklahoma. 

Pictured is Dr. Loren Gresham, President of Southern Nazarene University 

“The early 20th Century mathematician, logician and philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, penned these words years ago: ‘Education ‘is the training of human souls.’  For nearly four decades it has been my personal and professional privilege to watch Loren Gresham focus his professional career on ‘training the human souls of its students, athletes and co-workers as he evolved through the roles of coaching and teaching to administrative responsibilities, culminating with challenges held with the presidency of a private university,” said J. Michael Crabtree, Assistant to the President as Southern Nazarene University.

Loren P. Gresham earned the Bachelor of Arts degree at Pasadena College, (now Point Loma Nazarene University) in 1962. He continued studies at the University of Southern California earning the Master of Arts degree in international relations. In 1964, he married Linda Brown, a former classmate at Pasadena College and daughter of Dr. W. Shelburne Brown, president of the College. 

In 1967, Loren, Linda and daughter Suzanne moved to Bethany, Oklahoma, where Gresham became professor of political science at Bethany Nazarene College. He resumed graduate studies in that discipline at the University of Oklahoma, completing the Ph.D. degree in 1973. 

Dr. Gresham pursued his lifelong interest in the sport of basketball. He became assistant coach and later head coach of the Bethany Nazarene College (BNC) men’s intercollegiate team, which achieved remarkable success, including a national championship in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1981.

In 1985, Dr. Gresham became provost of Bethany Nazarene College. In 1989, the Board of Trustees elected Gresham president of the institution, now called Southern Nazarene University.

“Across these years, Dr. Gresham has maintained a caring-personal nature whether interacting with students, parents or donors; has led by example the “Christ-servant leadership” model, living out a life-style of integrity, a high level of intellectual ethics, a loving son-father and husband, and a man of Christian character,” stated Crabtree.

“Since the beginning of his presidency Dr. Gresham has attended several district assemblies every season on the church’s educational region – nearly 230 of them by now,” said John Martin, Associate Vice President for University Advancement and Church Relations at Southern Nazarene University.

Dr. Gresham’s love for the university and passion for people have been evident over the years at SNU. From professor and coaching basketball to provost and president, Gresham has shared a major part of his life with all who have been a part of the university.

“Gresham has put SNU on the map in greater Oklahoma City area. He serves on the board of directors of such influential organizations as the YMCA of Metro Oklahoma City, Integris Baptist Medical Center, Community Bank of OKC, and OKC Chamber of Commerce, making SNU a familiar and respected presence in the OKC community,” said Dr. Peggy Poteet, Professor of English; Chair, Division of Cultural and Communication Studies at Southern Nazarene University. “Dr. Gresham helped to establish the Peer Learning Network (PLN) that helps to bring nationally known business leaders to the campus and attracts influential CEO’s in the area as well.”

Dr. Gresham has chaired the NAIA Council of Presidents, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He has chaired the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Board of Directors for four years (CCCU is an organization that includes more than 111 Christian colleges and universities across the nation).

“President Gresham has left his mark on the SNU campus in many ways - such as the completion of the Sawyer Athletic Complex, The Marchant Center and The Centennial Gate. He led the A Transforming Vision Capital Campaign in 2002-2006 to exceed its 31 million goal raising $32.5 million for campus strategic projects,” said Martin.

Congratulations are in order to the Southern Nazarene University President – Dr. Loren Gresham for serving his first 20 years as President of SNU. We look forward to the years ahead as Dr. Gresham continues to lead the university in furthering the education of those who attend SNU as well as for those who work with and around this faithful leader.

“While Dr. Gresham’s presidency is far from over, Loren’s true accolades serve others around the world and his achievements are acknowledged not only within the State of Oklahoma and the Southwest, but throughout the community of private higher education,” said Crabtree. “The best days of Dr. Gresham’s presidency and Southern Nazarene University have yet to be written.”

--From Many Came One, in Jesus' Name  by Loren P. Gresham and L. Paul Gresham