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NASCUMC Convenes for Summer 2017 Meeting Focused on Mission and Innovation for the Future

September 5, 2017

The attendees of the NASCUMC conference

Focused on the central role that organizational mission plays in directing the activities of each of its member institutions, the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) recently held the second of its biannual meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sharing Best Practices

The theme for the Summer 2017 meeting, “Articulating and Embracing Institutional Mission,” influenced sessions for the education leaders as they shared past successes and challenges, as well as ideas for future innovation and strategies. Each session was led by a president of a United Methodist-related college, including the keynote address focused on “Institutional Mission as a Driving Force for Innovation” by James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., 12th president and CEO of Meharry Medical College.

Breakout sessions focused on navigating difficult campus conversations around topics like “Race & Ethnicity” and “Interfaith Dialogue & Religious Identity,” led by Roderick Smothers, Sr., Ph.D., president of Philander Smith College, and Fred Slabach, J.D., president of Texas Wesleyan University, respectively, allowed NASCUMC to serve as a resource for leaders in addressing some of the most challenging and important issues facing religiously affiliated institutions.

Other sessions included “Free Speech on Campus” led by Walter Kimbrough, Ph.D., president of Dillard University; “Maximizing External Partnerships to Increase Institutional Capacity” led by Colleen Perry Keith, Ph.D., president of Pfeiffer University; and “Capitalizing on Church Relationship to Reach a New Generation of Students” led by Keith and Lawrence Czarda, Ph.D., president of Greensboro College.

“As we look to the future of higher education, it will be vital for United Methodist-related schools, colleges and universities to keep their unique institutional mission central to all they do, as their mission is what sets them apart,” said Amanda Allen, J.D., director of Schools, Colleges and Universities at GBHEM. “United Methodist higher education is committed to providing opportunities for students to grow in their understanding of the role that faith plays not only in their lives but also in society, particularly in light of our Wesleyan commitment to social justice. Enhancing the connection between these institutions and the church is key to our focus on developing young, passionate leaders who will transform the world.”

Welcoming New Leadershi

Gadbois Endowment Fund Image
Dr. Marcia Hawkins (L), president of Union College and Siri S. Gadbois, president emerita of EIIA, Inc. hold the signed agreement launching the Siri S. Gadbois Leadership Endowment Fund, created in honor of Gadbois.

In the business session, members affirmed the launch of the Siri S. Gadbois Leadership Endowment Fund, created in honor of Gadbois, president emerita of Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators, Inc. (EIIA). This endowment, directed by the Division of Higher Education at GBHEM in partnership with NASCUMC, will support peer-to-peer mentoring and consultation for institutional leaders. Also during the business session, NASCUMC elected the following new officers and directors to its board:

  • Second Vice President: Colette Pierce Burnette, Ed.D., president, Huston-Tillotson University
  • Chair, Program Planning Committee: Roderick Smothers, Sr., Ph.D., president, Philander Smith College
  • Directors, Class of 2020:
    • Scott Cochran, MBA, president, Spartanburg Methodist College
    • Phyllis Dawkins, Ph.D., president, Bennett College
    • Vivia Fowler, Ph.D., president, Wesleyan College
    • Sandra Harper, Ph.D., president, McMurry University
    • Christopher Holoman, Ph.D., president, Centenary College of Louisiana
    • Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Ph.D., president, Claremont School of Theology

Roger Drake, Ed.D., president of Central Methodist University, transitioned from second vice president to first vice president and Ben Hancock, Ph.D., president of Methodist University, assumed the role of president for the 2017-2018 year. Hancock succeeds Marcia Hawkins, Ph.D., president of Union College, who had served in the role since 2016.

Honoring Ted Brown

Greg Bergquist, associate general secretary at GBHEM, presented Ted Brown’s wife, Cheryl, and son, Tyler, with the Ken Yamada Distinguished Leadership Award Flame of Excellence statue as well as a personal gift from Ken Yamada, for whom the award is named.
Greg Bergquist, associate general secretary at GBHEM, presented Ted Brown’s wife, Cheryl, and son, Tyler, with the Ken Yamada Distinguished Leadership Award Flame of Excellence statue as well as a personal gift from Ken Yamada, for whom the award is named.

At the annual banquet, NASCUMC honored the late Ted Brown, Ph.D. and his lifelong commitment to United Methodist higher education. Selected prior to his death in May 2017, Brown was awarded the Ken Yamada Distinguished Leadership Award, presented jointly by the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU) and NASCUMC. Following a posthumous presentation at the recent IAMSCU conference in Puebla, Mexico, NASCUMC was honored to present Brown’s wife, Cheryl, and son, Tyler, with the Flame of Excellence statue as well as a personal gift from Ken Yamada, for whom the award is named. Brown served as the 30th president of Martin Methodist College for nearly 20 years and as IAMSCU president for six years. At the time of his death, he was serving as interim associate general secretary for the Division of Higher Education at GBHEM. He previously served on the GBHEM Board of Directors for two consecutive quadrennia as vice president of the Division of Higher Education.

Standing for Social Justice and Human Dignit

Recognizing the ongoing need for resources to encourage dialogue in the current social and political climate, the NASCUMC membership also discussed next steps for the Justice and Dignity Initiative. Originally launched in 2015 for a two-year period, the project encourages NASCUMC members to commit to sponsoring campus conversations on concerns of justice and dignity within their distinctive contexts and to engage in assessment of institutional practices. At the 2017 winter meeting of the association, members in attendance affirmed their support for continuing the initiative as an ongoing priority. The resolution affirms the commitment of United Methodist educational institutions to provide “leadership on behalf of social justice and human dignity by developing new patterns and practices of communication and by attending to questions of justice within our own institutions.”

NASCUMC’s Guiding Mission

As a voluntary association of the chief executive officers of the 118 educational institutions related to The United Methodist Church, NASCUMC’s mission is to advance the work of education and scholarship in member institutions; to work cooperatively with conferences, boards, and agencies of The United Methodist Church to address issues of mutual concern to the church and the academy; to work in partnership with the church to educate students for leadership and service to the global community; to foster and encourage the common good of member institutions; and to strengthen the collegiality and camaraderie among member presidents, deans, and heads of school.

The Division of Higher Education at GBHEM, leadership development resource for the denomination, provides administrative direction for NASCUMC. 

To learn more about NASCUMC, visit

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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