As the search for Azusa Pacific University’s 18th president continues, the APU board of trustees has unanimously appointed Andrew Barton, who has a doctorate in education, as interim president of the university.
Andrew Barton began his time as interim president of Azusa Pacific University on Nov. 5. He assumed the position with nearly 15 years of experience at APU and a unique view of his role as predecessor to the 18th president.
Background and experience
Barton brings over 14 years of experience working at APU into his new position. He started at the university raising money in the Office of University Advancement from 2007–11. Then he transitioned into an administrative role at APU’s online affiliate institution, Los Angeles Pacific University from 2011–12.
“I see my role in this window of time — short, long, however it is — to really prepare APU and to do what we need to do and lead what we need to do, so that we can hand off well to the next president,” said Barton.
More recently, Barton served as chief of staff under both President Jon Wallace from 2017–19 and former President Ferguson from 2019–21. He also held the position of vice president for strategic planning and mission integration from 2020–21.
As vice president for strategic planning and mission integration, Barton was highly involved in the conception and implementation of “Renewal,” APU’s seven-year strategic plan to position the university as “the premier Christian university of choice for our culture and times.”
In a letter to the APU community, APU Board of Trustees Chair Tom Miller described Barton’s qualifications as follows: “Highly respected within the APU Community, and with keen insight and alignment with the university’s strategic and tactical goals, Dr. Barton possesses the needed skills and competencies to lead APU at this critical juncture. His collaborative, bridge-building leadership style will engage and promote our Christ-centered culture.”
Who is interim President Barton?
Originally from England, Barton studied criminology and economics at Keele University in Staffordshire, England before moving to California to work for The Salvation Army.
Barton started working and raising money for The Salvation Army in Los Angeles after completing his undergraduate degree. Later, he entered the field of higher education, doing a similar job.
“My first job in higher education was raising money,” said Barton. “I came to really enjoy seeing what happens on a university campus and the opportunity that education provides … that just started my interest in higher education.”
In the late ‘90s, Barton’s wife was working at APU which connected him with the community. He says that APU always felt like a special place, so eventually he applied for an opening at the university and began his time as part of the APU community.
“I’ve stayed in higher education because I just really believe in what happens on a university campus, whether it’s physical or online,” said Barton. “And the fact that we do that within that sense of that Christ-centered framework… really has meant a lot to me here and that’s why I’m still here after 15 years.”
What are interim President Barton’s goals?
Barton consistently emphasizes that his role as interim president is to prepare the university for the next president to smoothly transition into their new role.
“I’m just hopeful that I can bring my skills, my experiences and hopefully my collaborative tendencies to help us move positively, so when they name the 18th president, I can hand the chair to the next person, and then they can take APU onward too,” said Barton.
Despite Barton’s focus on preparing the university for the permanent 18th president, he is still highly cognizant of the current needs of the institution.
“I’m looking to make sure that we keep moving forward on things connected to Renewal,” said Barton. “The institution doesn’t need to tread water or wait for the next president, we really do need to keep moving forward.”
For Barton, implementing the “Renewal” plan during his presidency will mean addressing students’ needs coming out of the pandemic, advancing technology and ensuring students’ success and sense of belonging.
Barton outlined another one of his goals as being engaged in the APU community to show students, faculty and staff that he is present and involved in the life of the institution. He credits this aspect of his goals to the example former President Wallace provided as what Barton calls “the students’ president.”
Additionally, Barton hopes to encourage the APU community that “the future of APU is bright.” He says students should approach their education with the expectation that God will use these experiences at APU to make a difference in the world.
“I want to encourage colleagues and students that God is at work and sometimes we need to cast our eyes upwards and open our ears and open our hands, and make extra efforts to make sure that we see that,” said Barton.
Above all, Barton hopes to carry on the legacy the presidents that came before him imbued in the university.
“I hope that people will look at my time and say that it was about the institution … I hope that they look back and say that Andrew led in a way, made decisions in a way and engaged the life of the institution in a way that was about the mission of APU,” said Barton. “The fact that I’ve got the opportunity to be part of that — not only part of the legacy, but part of the future — I think that’s just meaningful. That’s a special honor.”
Edited for clarity Nov. 18: Barton served Dr. Wallace as chief of staff from 17-19, not 12-19. He did not raise money in England. His first job was with The Salvation Army but his first job in higher education was raising money. Barton joined the APU community in the ’90s, not the faculty. Barton said that Dr. Wallace was the “student’s president” not the “people’s.”