HANNIBAL – After a seven-month long search, Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) trustees unanimously voted to name the school’s 17th president: Anthony Allen.
The announcement came at the end of the spring commencement exercises May 5. Allen was elected in a special called business meeting May 4.
Allen, who is currently senior vice president of administration and the chief administrative officer at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) in Kansas City, will fill the role left by out-going president Woody Burt, who will retire effective Aug. 31. Allen, 43, also teaches Christian Education courses at MBTS.
A North Carolina native, Allen was raised in a Christian home. He played football four years at Duke University where he was a defensive tackle and graduated with a degree in history and religion. He earned both the master’s degree in theology and the master’s degree in theology (ethics) at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He completed his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. in 2011.
A member of Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., Allen began at Midwestern Seminary in 2007 as the senior vice president for administration, and the chief operational officer, became the senior vice president for institutional advancement in 2007, and in 2012 took on his previous job title as senior VP for administration and COO.
Allen brings financial development and recruitment skills to HLGU from his previous 16 years of work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) as assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement and then vice president for financial development. He also served at SEBTS as director of admissions and student recruitment.
Allen and his wife, Stacy, have five children, Bethany, Evan, Leighton, Annaliese and Brinley.
In a statement released by the trustees after their May 4 meeting, Allen apoke about his impressions of HLG and his vision for the future.
“I appreciate very much its unwavering commitment to veritas or “truth” and an unashamed commitment to our Baptist heritage,” Allen said of HLG.
Terry M. Buster Sr., chairman of the HLG board of trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Palmyra, said in the statement he believes the search process revealed “God’s hand in every step of the way.”
“I’m excited about Dr. Allen coming as the new president of HLG University,” Buster said. “After a unanimous vote of the board of trustees we just feel like God’s moving us forward and continuing the progress, continuing the heritage, and continuing the history—and launching us into a shared vision and into new vistas and exciting growth at Hannibal-LaGrange University.”
Giving two reasons for why he considered coming to the university, Allen said first HLG “has a historic Christian commitment.”
This historic past has preserved the institutions, while unfortunately many have fallen by the way-side or jettisoned under their Christian commitment and denominational accountability,” he said.
Second, Allen said HLG has “a denominational fidelity and accountability to the Missouri Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“As a Baptist university, we have an obligation and a sacred trust to train the next generation of men and women to serve in a variety of vocations and ministerial service,” he said.
Describing his vision for the future of HLG as a “shared vision”—Allen said is it “one that is born out of a heart for Christian education that holds high the Word of God and the revelation of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Christian higher education should be the best education because we recognize that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Allen said. “We believe in divine truth revealed through Scripture, which informs our observations of the material world we live in,” he said, citing Deut. 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Kevin Shrum, chairman of the trustees for MBTS, said they are sad to lose Allen’s presence on their campus.
“Anthony Allen has done a great job in helping bring stability and calm during the presidential transition period at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Allen’s omni-competence in many areas of leadership has helped stabilize our administrative staff and faculty communities. Congratulations to Dr. Allen and the Hannibal-LaGrange University community on his appointment as HLGU’s new president. Under his leadership, HLGU’s best days lay ahead.”
Buster said plans are for Burt to be named President Emeritus once Allen begins as president in June or July.
Since coming to then-named Hannibal-LaGrange “College” as a professor over 30 years ago, Burt watched the school grow from a two-year institution with less than 400 students to a four-year university with fall enrollment this fall expected to top 1,200. During his tenure with HLGU, Burt taught speech communications and served as admissions director, dean of students, registrar, academic dean, chief development officer, executive vice president, and president. He and his wife, Katherine, who has taught English at HLGU, will guest-teach at as sister university in Cambridge, England this fall. She will return for the spring 2013 semester before retiring next May.