Cedarville University’s newly named president Thomas White said he will work to ensure the school’s graduates are academically prepared for jobs and “understand how to defend their Biblical world view against a culture that may not always be so friendly to that world view.”
White, 39, was selected as Cedarville’s 10th president unanimously by the nine-member search committee and the university’s board of trustees from a pool of 46 applicants. He will leave a job as vice president of student services and communication and associate professor of systematic theology at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and begin in his new role July 1. He replaces Bill Brown, who retired after a decade as president and is now advocating for the 126-year-old private, Baptist university as its chancellor.
White told a large crowd that gathered Wednesday for a ceremony to announce his presidency that over the course of his interviews, “it became evident that Cedarville and I are kindred spirits. That we both hold high the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we both believe in a Biblical foundation that is evident throughout every classroom, every teacher, every staff member, and that will continue.”
He also pledged to continue the requirement that every undergraduate attend chapel and earn a Bible minor, and he added that he wants every student to go on a meaningful mission trip with him or a faculty member to reach people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. He said he will use his experience to specially focus on chapel and the School of Biblical and Ministry Studies during his time leading the school, which has about 3,400 undergraduate, graduate and online students enrolled in more than 100 areas of study.
And, he said to parents of prospective students that “Cedarville will be a place you can trust.”
White holds a doctoral degree in systematic theology and a master of divinity degree in pastor track with languages from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He earned a bachelor’s in English and associate of arts degrees from Anderson University in South Carolina, according to Cedarville.
According to his online biography, White has worked at Southwestern Seminary since October 2006 when he was elected as the school’s vice president. He is a native of Honea Path, S.C., has authored or edited four theological books, is a hunter, a former world amateur champion in Karate and is a member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Board of Trustees chairman Lorne Scharnberg said White was highly recommended and has training and experience managing, teaching and preaching that qualified him for the position as president. “He has proved himself at Southwestern Seminary.”
White and his wife of 14 years, Joy, will move to the area with their adopted daughter, Rachel, and son, Samuel.
“I really look forward to getting to know all of you,” White told the crowd. “And for all of us working together to make a difference for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s our mission, that’s our goal and that’s our purpose. We have an incredible opportunity to impact Ohio, to impact the Midwest and to impact this world.”
Cedarville has launched a new website with more information on White, Cedarville.edu/president.
Title: 10th president at Cedarville University.
Experience: Vice president for student services and communications and associate professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; director of student life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; has authored or edited four theological books and numerous articles.
Education: Ph.D., Systematic Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (2005); M.Div., pastoral track with languages, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (2001); B.A., English, Anderson University (1997); A.A., Anderson University (1995).
Family: Wife, Joy Martin White; two children.
Interesting fact: Once owned four karate schools in South Carolina. He holds a fourth degree black belt in Karate, was the Middleweight World Amateur Sport Karate international champion in 1993 in addition to two state championships and is a member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.