HANNIBAL – Although he’s been on the job since the summer, Hannibal La-Grange University (HLGU) made it official when President Anthony Allen was inaugurated Oct. 26 here.
The school’s Mabee Sports Complex was full of students, visiting dignitaries, faculty, alumni and guests during Allen’s official introduction to the school, with guests including representatives from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwest Baptist University, Union University, Oklahoma Baptist University, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the Missouri House of Representatives, the City of Hannibal and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
Each had their own well-wishes for the school’s 17th president.
“With God’s help and the capable leadership of Dr. Allen, HLGU is poised to make tremendous strides,” said HLGU’s president-emeritus, Woody Burt via video. (After retiring this summer, Burt and his wife, Catherine, are teaching this semester at a sister university in Cambridge, England.)
“He has the heart of a servant and looks for opportunities to roll up his sleeves and be engaged,” said John Yeats, executive director of the MBC to the crowd. “You have called a godly, great man to be president. He encourages me and the MBC’s 1,900 churches to up our game just a little bit to help this institution be all God intended it to be. Dr. Allen, we thank the Lord that you are the man God has called to lead into the future.”
Frank Page, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, brought greetings to Allen, a resolution of support from the Executive Committee and a challenge from Micah 6.
“What does the Lord require of you, Dr. Allen?” he asked. “Do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly.”
Roy Hark, mayor of the City of Hannibal, praised Allen and said he looks forward to continued partnership between the school and the community.
“You have had many fine leaders and administrators,” Hart told the crowd. “I know Dr. Allen is going to lead us farther and to do even greater things. ”
David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a prominent figure in Christian higher education circles, delivered the inaugural address.
“It’s been said the president of a Baptist university needs the mind of a scholar, the caring spirit of a pastor, the savvy of a business leader, the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros,” he said.
“Think Christianly about higher education,” Dockery said. “I know you dream of working with the faculty, staff and students here who will wrestle with matters of philosophy and literature, with economics and finance, with education and social structures, with political and government matters, with leadership and relationships, with theological matters and the ultimate questions of life and death. Many think Christian higher education is a retreat from serious exploration. But we want both hearts and minds to be renewed as they are challenged through rigorous processes that must characterize [HLGU] in the day ahead. Model this for your students.”
Finally, it was Allen’s time to respond to the challenges set before him.
“We need to build upon the reputation we have as a distinctively Christian university,” he said. “All truth is God’s truth, both truth that is revealed and truth that is discovered. HLGU must be an institution where parents can safely send their children knowing that they will receive a solid, biblical worldview to face and comfort the world properly in Christ. We are committed to raising the next generation of students who will be a caring, compassionate and faithful witness to the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A North Carolina native, Allen was raised in a Christian home and 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 before answering the call to HLGU this May.
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.