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Southwestern Adventist University Inaugurates President Ken Shaw, Raises Over $100K


Southwestern Adventist University inaugurated Dr. Ken Shaw as the 25th president Friday, November 7, on Shaw’s 130th day in office. The new president’s wife, Ann Shaw, and family were in attendance. The ceremony began with the inauguration procession, accompanied by the Southwestern Wind Symphony and local bagpiper, Matt Willis. The procession was led by ceremony marshal Dr. Marcel Sargeant, Professor of Education and Psychology, followed by the Board of Trustees, former presidents, delegates from schools across the nation, faculty emeriti, current faculty and staff, and the president. A complete list of the delegates can be found at

Following an anthem by the University Singers and members of the Southwestern Symphony Orchestra, greetings were offered from the Student Association, faculty and staff, Alumni Association, the Board of Trustees, the local community, Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Inc., and the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities.

On behalf of the student body, student association president Austen Powell quoted several of his fellow students, saying both Dr. and Mrs. Shaw are a “blessing to this campus,” showing “a tangible effort to connect with the students” from the minute they set foot on campus. Powell noted that, as the Shaw’s “have shown us nothing less than the love and character of Christ,” he is “excited to see how the Lord will use (them) in leading and building up this University.” Powell ended with “Lead us into the promise land, Moses. And welcome to the family!”

Representative for the Association of Adventist Colleges and Universities, and president of Southern Adventist University, Dr. Gordon Bietz stated in his greeting that “It is our confident belief the students under your influence will be given a framework for living that includes their spiritual, mental, and physical development. We pray God will bless Southwestern Adventist University under your leadership.”

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Larry Moore, then led in the installation of the president. Chairman Moore, Vice President for Academic Administration Dr. Amy Rosenthal, president emeritus Dr. Eric Anderson, and Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Jennifer Scott prayed over Dr. and Mrs. Shaw, seeking the Lord’s blessing on them in their leadership as a couple. Larry Moore then presented Shaw with the newly commissioned presidential medallion.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Larry Moore officially welcomed Dr. Shaw as Southwestern’s 25th president.

In his inaugural address, Dr. Shaw recognized the four past presidents who were in attendance: Presidents Don McAdams (1975-1984), Marvin Anderson (1984-2001), Don Sahly (2002-2005), and Eric Anderson (2005-2014). Shaw went on to say that each of Southwestern’s past presidents “has dedicated part of their life to improving the quality of Southwestern Adventist University.  Whatever is done from this point forward can be attributed in some measure to those who have gone before us.  Sir Isaac Newton stated it succinctly:  ‘If I have seen further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.’  Your leadership made a difference and is making a difference.” 

Shaw went on to describe Southwestern as an educational and spiritual bridge that helps guides students in their academic pursuits and their journey towards heaven. He thanked each of the entities that were so involved in the inauguration and the success of Southwestern, including the delegates who travelled so far. “Students and faculty, I am proud to say, ‘I am Southwestern Adventist University.’ Today does mark a new beginning,” said Shaw. “A rededication and a recommitment from all of us to the ideals of this bridge we call Southwestern Adventist University.”

The new medallion, made of bronze, was designed and sculpted by Southwestern alumnus Jeff Gottfried (1993). The front of the medallion depicts the Bible and the Mizpah Gate, both prominent features on Southwestern’s official seal. Since 1937, the Mizpah Gate has been the port of entry for thousands of students joining the community of learners. For freshmen, it is a symbol of a new beginning; for graduates, it is a sweet memory. The back of the medallion shows Christ sitting with Southwestern students in front of the Chan Shun Centennial Library, representing that Christ is the center of all activities on campus. It also has “25th President” engraved on it.

The Inauguration Benefit Gala, held at the new Liberty Event Center in Cleburne, preceded the inauguration ceremony. The gala benefitted Southwestern student scholarships. The sponsors who so generously supported, listed below, included local community members, organizations, former faculty, alumni, and conferences of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The gala, with 240 guests in attendance, raised over $102,000 for scholarships.

Platinum Sponsors ($10,000)
Dr. and Mrs. John Shaw
Southwestern Adventist University Board of Trustees
Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Texas Health Huguley Hospital

Gold Sponsors ($5,000)
Liberty Event Center
McMullen Family | Saxon Family
J. Barry Siebenlist Family

Silver Sponsors ($3,000)
Dr. Laurice Kafrouni Durrant
Faith Search Partners
Tom Hazlewood | Lowell “Stretch” Smith
Hooten Homes – Phil and Sammie Hooten
H. Cecil and Mary Ellen Hopps
Marti Foundation
Pinnacle Bank
Dr. Donald and Mary Ross
Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Texico Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

The gala was also supported by a number of local florists who donated centerpieces. Following the gala, the arrangements were delivered by Southwestern’s student outreach program to local nursing homes. With gratitude, Southwestern would like to recognize the following florists:
A Little Ben’s Flower
Ambar Tree Florist
HEB, Burleson
Kroger Floral, Cleburne
Sonshine Flowers
Texas Floral Design, Inc.

The program featured musical selections by several of Southwestern’s students under the direction of Dr. Marc Elysee and Jonathan Wall, including a dynamic clarinet solo and soul-stirring rendition of Alex North’s Senza Catene by a vocal quartet. The string quartet played for the hour-long meet and greet that preceded the program while the dinner hour featured music by students as well as a specially commissioned inauguration piece by retired music professor, Dr. John Boyd. 

In addition to the fantastic music, two students, Daniel Perez and Laura Groessel, shared their personal stories. Both students came to Southwestern via hard work and miracles. As they related their experiences, the support and the scholarships they received, often at just the right time, it was evident that God is leading in their lives.

The evening concluded with a message from Dr. Shaw, thanking the sponsors for their overwhelming generosity.  As he outlined the ways that Southwestern seeks to give back, Shaw said “I am so pleased to now be affiliated with Southwestern Adventist University, an institution who not only believes in service, not only teaches the importance of service, but a university that actively and joyfully engages in service.”
The following morning, the sponsors were invited to a special breakfast with the president. Campus tours were provided for all the inauguration guests and a reception was held in the Chan Shun Centennial Library immediately following the inauguration ceremony. The student association celebrated the inauguration with cupcakes, and hand-written cards to Dr. and Mrs. Shaw, on the center-campus lawn.

“Being at Southwestern Adventist University is an honor for me,” concluded Shaw.  “My wife and I are so pleased to be here to serve the faculty, staff, and students of this fine Institution and the important constituencies in which it serves. It is with deep humbleness and a burning desire that I accept the 25th presidency of Southwestern Adventist University.”

Darcy Force is Director of Public Relations at Southwestern Adventist University

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