President Taylor Announces Planned Retirement from Evangel
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Speaking to students, faculty, and staff in chapel, Taylor said she plans to retire in August but agreed to stay on until the next president is in place.
“It has been my joy and privilege to serve my alma mater,” said Taylor, an alumna of both Evangel and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. “With the extraordinary work that faculty and staff have done over the past several years and with God’s provision and gracious hand on Evangel, I believe that now is the right time to transition. I’m confident that the university is poised for continued growth with the next leader.”
Before coming to her decision, Taylor spent considerable time in prayer and reflection and processed her thoughts with the Leadership Committee of the Board of Trustees.
“Just as when I trusted God when I felt called to Springfield to lead Evangel, I am trusting God in this decision,” said Taylor, an ordained Assemblies of God minister. “I believe God’s hand is resting on the university, and He will bring a new leader to continue to move Evangel forward in incredible ways to fulfill His purposes.
“I firmly believe He will continue to raise up new generations of men and women at Evangel who will continue to be Spirit-empowered servants of God who will impact the Church and the world until Jesus returns.”
After graduating from Evangel and AGTS, Taylor felt called to vocational service in higher education, earning a Ph.D. from Florida State University and becoming an expert in academic assessment and leadership.
In 2013, she felt the leading of God to return to Springfield to become the university’s fourth president. She became the first Evangel graduate to hold the position and the first woman. Taylor was called to consolidate the Assemblies of God’s three schools – Central Bible College, Evangel University, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
She had come back to Springfield from Costa Mesa, California, where she served as the ninth president of Vanguard University. When she stepped in as president of Vanguard, the university was in crisis and under her leadership experienced an incredible turnaround.
The complexity of bringing together the three Springfield schools’ diverse faculties, staffs, programs, alumni, and systems was recognized as a daunting challenge. However, in the process, Taylor, who has spent more than 40 years in higher education, led a series of innovations, including creating new business systems and processes, reshaping and starting new academic programs, adding new professional accreditations, and launching online degrees.
Under her leadership, alumni engagement more than doubled and giving under her tenure has exceeded $35 million in donations and grants. Bucking a nationwide trend of enrollment declines, the university saw enrollment growth of 8.95% this year.
“The clocktower at Evangel has the inscription of 1 Samuel 7:12, which says, ‘Thus far, the LORD has helped us,’” Taylor said. “He truly has helped us, and I firmly believe His gracious hand will continue to rest on Evangel. To God goes the glory.”
Doug Clay, the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, expressed his thanks for Taylor’s work.
“I’m grateful for the leadership of Taylor, not only through the consolidation but also in positioning Evangel University for a bright future,” Clay said. “Evangel University, with the embedded seminary, is uniquely positioned in the Assemblies of God fellowship to give students the education and training they need to fulfill their God-given callings.”
Randy Teuber, Chair of the Evangel Board of Trustees, praised Taylor’s work over the past seven years and the way in which she has accomplished it.
“Dr. Taylor has done an incredible job of navigating this complicated and difficult process of consolidation,” Teuber said. “Her passion for students and the Evangel community is clear to all, and her dedicated leadership has put Evangel on a strong path for the future. She has been an incredible asset for the university.
“We look forward to a bright future because of the foundation that has been built by Dr. Taylor, and we look forward to the next president God has in store who will lead Evangel University into the future.”
Teuber said the Board of Trustees has a full search planned and has engaged a national executive search firm with extensive experience in Christian higher education to conduct the search for Evangel’s next president. More details, including the presidential profile and nomination process, will be made available on Evangel’s website in the coming weeks. Teuber said the goal is to have a new president in place before the fall semester starts in August 2020 but noted that Taylor had agreed to delay her retirement if needed for a longer search.
He said that the Board of Trustees would release plans to celebrate Taylor later in the semester.
Taylor has a long list of accomplishments and honors, including being named as a top leader in both the Orange County Business Journal in California and the Springfield Business Journal. She has held a series of leadership positions in higher education groups, including working with accrediting bodies and sitting on the board of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
In retirement, Taylor said she will continue to be a champion for Evangel.
“I love Evangel and the people here,” she said. “Evangel is an extraordinary community that continues to produce graduates who have an incredible impact as they live out their vocational callings around the world. They are recognized for their excellence in service to the Church and the communities where they live.
“Evangel will remain my highest personal philanthropic priority, and I believe the best is yet to be.”