Search committee members give an update on presidential search details

Nearly 10 months have passed since Azusa Pacific President Jon Wallace announced his retirement. In that time, APU’s Presidential Search Committee has worked to find Wallace’s replacement, partnering with search firm CarterBaldwin to narrow the candidate list from more than 80 candidates down to just four.

Dan Fachner, board member and co-lead of the search committee, said the applications began in September and in the following months the committee narrowed the list down to nine candidates, then to the current four. Fachner said he was not at liberty to disclose the candidates names.

“I’m delighted with the candidates that we’re at today. I think each one of them are really strong,” Fachner said. “Each one of them has their unique strengths in different areas.”

The search committee, comprised of seven board members and seven non-board members (two faculty and five administrators), chose these four candidates after a lengthy review process. They began by assembling a set of criteria they were looking for in the next president.

Facher described the process, saying the committee members split up and each assembled their own list of traits they wanted to see in the next president. He said when they came back together and compared notes, they had the same main criteria.

“Being able to hold the university strong in [its] mission was very high up there. Being able to lead with vision and mission, both were extremely important,” Fachner said. “It goes without saying that a background in higher education was extremely important to us.”

Besides these traits, Fachner said two personal skills were paramount for the presidential role.

“[We wanted] somebody with really strong leadership and communication skills,” Fachner said.

Diversity is another important aspect for the next president.

“Absolutely. Diversity is very important to us and to the student body. We recognize the added value in that,” said Loren Martin, faculty moderator and a member of the search committee.

According to Fachner, the reflection of APU’s student body was a factor in searching for diverse candidates.

“We talked about it from the start, the importance of broadening our search enough to be able to pull in some diversity,” Fachner said. “Knowing that APU was a diverse campus was an important thing. Not that it was the sole reason, but we felt like that was an important thing for the potential new president.”

Neither Fachner nor Martin could comment on whether the candidates were internal or external applicants. However, Ethan Schrum, an assistant professor in the Department of History and Political Science, said he was certain where they would come from.

“I believe it is very likely that this will be an external hire,” Schrum said. “Among all the constituents, there seems to be a sense that APU really needs some fresh ideas and somebody who has some real experience running another institution, even if it’s not necessarily at the presidential level, but someone who really understands how other institutions work to maybe come in and help us improve our infrastructure and some of our processes.”

Schrum noted the traits faculty are looking for in the next president.

“Many faculty want a president who will both be very oriented toward faculty and a mission of educating Christian thinkers, while at the same time being a very strong fundraiser,” Schrum said. “It can be difficult to find one person who has both of those skill sets.”

Schrum said the best fundraisers are typically older with many years of experience. However, Fachner said the candidates vary greatly in age. He said the committee did not limit their search to either younger or older candidates.

Over the next several weeks, the committee will interview the four candidates at undisclosed off-campus locations, which will in turn lead to their final decision.

The committee has yet to release a date they’ll announce the next president on, but they released an official statement in December saying, “The hope is that the Committee will make a recommendation to the APU Board of Trustees sometime in spring 2019, so the board can have a new president in place by July 1, 2019.”


Correction: This article initially said “the search committee, comprised of seven board members and seven faculty members,” based on the information ZU Media received. A faculty member provided the correct information. The committee contains seven board members and seven non-board members(two faculty and five administrators).