Southern Nazarene University's Board of Trustees elected J. Keith Newman 24 March to become president of the university 1 August. The election follows the retirement of Loren P. Gresham, SNU’s president since 1989.
Newman’s election is the culmination of an extensive search that began last fall by SNU’s Board and Presidential Search Committee. The process was facilitated by CarterBaldwin Executive Search.
“Dr. Newman is an outstanding leader, educator, and churchman with a remarkable record of accomplishment,” said Brad Moore, chair of the SNU Board of Trustees and its Presidential Search Committee. “He’s an alumnus of SNU and also a former SNU trustee, so he’s very familiar with the school and well-known by many SNU constituents. We’re delighted with his acceptance of SNU’s presidency and look forward to working alongside him and his wife, Carolyn.”
Newman comes to SNU from Indiana Wesleyan University, the largest school in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. He has been at IWU for eight years, most recently as CEO and chancellor of the school’s main campus in Marion, Indiana, which has a residential student population of more than 3,000 and a 2017 freshman retention rate of 82 percent. He and his cabinet manage an annual budget of more than $100 million, and he has led fundraising initiatives that have not only enabled IWU to make important campus additions but have also contributed significantly to growing IWU’s endowment from $44 million in 2009 to more than $160 million today.
“Carolyn and I are grateful for this opportunity to serve the Church of the Nazarene, the Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, and especially students,” Newman said. “We love SNU and are committed to continuing her mission of making Christlike disciples through higher education in Christ-centered community. Dr. and Mrs. Gresham have led SNU with excellence, with vision, and with purpose. We’re deeply honored to follow in their footsteps and to become part of the team that will lead the university in the days ahead. We solicit your prayers for God’s continued blessing on SNU.”
David Wright, president of Indiana Wesleyan, congratulated SNU on the election.
"The IWU community has been blessed to know and work with Keith and Carolyn Newman for the past eight years," he said. "They are godly, wise, and genuine people who will leave behind many warm friendships in our university community. Dr. Newman is a superb leader whose accomplishments have made IWU a better and stronger institution. We wish Keith and Carolyn every success in the days ahead."
For the seven years before going to Indiana Wesleyan, Newman was vice president of university relations at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, a position for which he was recruited following 17 years in Nazarene pastoral ministry that included senior pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, and California. Before becoming a pastor, Newman was an officer and homicide detective in the Houston, Texas, Police Department. That is where he met another homicide detective, Carolyn, who would later become his wife.
Newman earned his bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist University with a double major in Christianity and history. He subsequently earned a Master of Ministry degree from Southern Nazarene University and a Doctorate of Education from Spalding University with a concentration in leadership. His doctoral dissertation was on the leadership qualities of J. B. Chapman, educational leader and former general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. He also did doctoral work at the University of Houston while pastoring in that city.
Keith and Carolyn Newman’s son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, Andy, Jennifer, and Avery, live in Houston. Andy and Jen are both 2007 graduates of Mount Vernon Nazarene University. The Newmans’ daughter, Alana, is a 2014 graduate of SNU. She resides in Austin, Texas.