The 18th Inauguration was seen as such a vital day by staff and students that perhaps generations will look upon it as the starting point for APU’s next great revival.  


On Sept. 21, Adam J. Morris was inaugurated as Azusa Pacific University’s 18th president at the Felix Event Center during an extended chapel. The final day of summer catapulted APU into a new era where supporters from around the community and beyond came to commemorate this historic event. Afterwards, President Morris and his wife, Faith Morris, as well as faculty, staff and students reflected on the occasion.


The entire day one could feel the giddiness of this celebration. When walking into the arena, it was evident that the air held something different. All around, faculty members were shaking one another’s hands and exchanging laughs. Meanwhile, President Morris’s grandchildren ran back and forth, stopping only to play with the stage light rays. 


This spirit continued as the ceremony began. As professors made their way to their seats, some waved to the camera while others greeted students. Students especially cheered as Professor Terry Dobson walked down the aisle carrying his teaching assistant, Igor the parrot.   


The morning opened up with humor-filled introductions from Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Albert Tate, and some encouragement from special guest speakers. 


In between the speeches, the chapel band sang their first song “Do it Again” by Elevation Worship. It was a glorious opening full of dramatic key changes and faithful worship. The music seemed to spiritually unite the community. As chief of staff, Starla Anderson, said after the final song, “This is the closest we can feel to being in heaven right now … I hope that you can feel the spirit of God in this place.” 


When it was time for the presidential address, President Morris dove into APU’s rich history, reminding attendees of the resilient spirit of APU. Inspired by the testimony of the past, President Morris said, “God is about to do something big here, something new, something even miraculous. I can tell you that I sense it, I cannot see it but I do believe it’s coming.” 


President Morris talked about how the Lord put revival on his heart. The word is quite fitting for APU, seeing that the school has been no stranger to revival. It’s what APU was founded on when the school aimed to spark change in the up-and-coming, highly influential city of LA. It was what kept APU going during the height of the Great Depression. And it is what gives APU hope now.


President Morris also noted the ordinary students who became the vessels for APU’s revivals. He encouraged students and staff to become part of the legacy and “take huge risks for God.” 


Additionally encouraging was that President Morris did not seem scared by the challenges APU faces. In fact, he seemed eager to face the issues head-on. 


“I wanted to be a part of something so big that only God could do it. And it’s that hopeful expectation of what God will do in our midst that motivates and encourages me to join each one of you on this epic adventure we call Azusa Pacific University,” said President Morris. 


By the applause following this quote that forced President Morris to briefly pause his speech, it was clear that this message was incredibly important to the community. 


After the ceremony, both President Morris and his wife Faith Morris thought about what this day meant for them. 


Faith’s eyes glistened with fresh emotion as she talked about her husband. She said, “I’m very proud of him, but more than that I know without a doubt that God has called him here. No doubt in my mind.” 


Having their family by their side was especially memorable. “It was the best seeing our grandkids dancing during the music. And just to be together as a family, you know this has been a family journey for us. It’ll be a year ago a week from Thursday when this process began. They’ve been with us together for the past year and so today is really an accumulation of a whole year’s worth of prayer and discernment and support,” said President Morris. 


For faculty and students alike, inauguration day felt like a sign of revival and a new reason for increased hope. 


English and Honors College professor Dr. Joseph Bentz compared President Morris’s inauguration to his remembrance of APU’s 16th President Jon Wallace’s. While he felt Wallace’s inauguration occurred during a heightened time of ambition and success, Morris’s inauguration was in a time where hope was especially needed. 


Honors College Dean Dr. David Weeks also felt that this inauguration had a warmth and an especially deep focus on Christ that made it stand out in his 39 years at APU.


However, Weeks also thinks that across inaugurations, there have been more similarities and shared traditions than differences. “A new president always brings new opportunities and new optimism to the campus and that’s always exciting,” said Weeks. 


For Director of Admissions, Drew Brown, President Morris’s inauguration was his first, but he remembers his time as a student at APU and what his president meant to him. “Jon Wallace was my president, someone who signified so much in my life and I’m so excited for Dr. Morris to do that same thing for current students,” said Brown. 


To Brown, between coming out of Covid and the trials APU has faced, a new president feels like a turn to the next chapter. President Morris seems like just the man to step into the role, according to Brown, because of how united he seems with the identity and history of APU. 


Sophomore international business major Emma Ghee attended the event not knowing much about the president, but after hearing President Morris speak about the legacies of past presidents, she felt enriched with expectations. To her, a new president means a continuation of the story of APU. “There’s always hope with that,” she said.


Though several students and staff anticipate what a new president will bring to APU, the process of resurgence on campus includes more than a president. 


Faith Morris said, “For all the students to be a part of the revival here in the years to come, that’ll be so exciting!” 


For students unsure of what they can contribute, President Morris asks everyone to be in prayer alongside him. In the 124 years of APU, presidents have guided the school into new heights. They did not do this alone, however, but with the help of those who believed in the mission of Christian higher education and of this institution.