Turnover Rate Rising for Christian College Presidents

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Replacements focus on new recruitment strategies and sustainability.

Todd Voss spends most of his week making decisions about COVID-19 for Southern Wesleyan University, where he’s been president since 2011. When he’s not doing that, he’s responding to the hundreds of emails he receives every day and figuring out how to raise more money for the school, recruit more students, and prepare for the crises that are sure to face evangelical higher education in the future.

It’s not a hard job, according to Voss. You just have to work all the time.

“You’re literally reading every night, you’re working on a proposal every weekend, you’re visiting donors or calling them every week. You’re just keeping all these plates spinning,” he said.

Voss said he loves being president, especially when he gets to be creative and go into his problem-solving mode. Still, there were times over the past 10 years when he thought to himself, “Okay, this is not healthy.”

He will retire in June, one of nine presidents of institutions associated with the Council for Christian Colleges the Universities (CCCU) who have already announced they are leaving in 2021. Sixteen CCCU schools appointed new presidents in 2020, continuing an upward trend in turnover rates. Thirteen left in 2019 and 11 in 2018, according to CCCU records. The schools seeking new leadership this coming year are Concordia University Nebraska, Crown College, Gordon College, Houghton College, Nyack College, Samford University, Southern Wesleyan University, Tabor College, and Taylor University.

The institutions face the challenges confronting all of higher education right now, with declining enrollments leading to revenue shortfalls and hard, controversial choices. A global pandemic has only made …

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