On January 9, 2020, Dr. Carol A. Taylor, Ph.D., announced her planned retirement as president of Evangel University after seven years in office. Dr. Taylor is Evangel’s fourth president and both the first Evangel graduate and first woman to hold the office. See below for more information.
President Taylor announces planned retirement
Jan, 9, 2020
Evangel University President Carol A. Taylor, Ph.D., today announced her planned retirement after seven years leading the institution.
Speaking to students, faculty, and staff in chapel, Dr. Taylor said she plans to retire in August but agreed to stay on until the next president is in place.
“It has been my joy and privilege to serve my alma mater,” said Dr. Taylor, an alumna of both Evangel and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. “With the extraordinary work that faculty and staff have done over the past several years and with God’s provision and gracious hand on Evangel, I believe that now is the right time to transition. I’m confident that the university is poised for continued growth with the next leader.”
Community Announcement of Planned Retirement
Evangel University Chapel, January 9, 2020
Dr. Carol A. Taylor
The opening passages read by some of our vice presidents contain the verses that are written around our clock tower. Our clock tower is the tallest and most iconic structure standing at the heart of campus and on each side is a Bible verse declaring God’s faithfulness and provision over Evangel University.
These passages serve as beacons declaring over our campus, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests the legacy of God’s faithfulness over Evangel from its founding. When we opened the doors in 1955 it was then a maze of barrack buildings that had served as O’Reilly General Hospital built during World War II to care for soldiers and then veterans. Today if you want to see what the campus looked like , you have to visit the Ann Spence Heritage Room in Riggs Hall. During homecoming this year, I joined some of the Pioneers, our first group of students, for an evening and watched with them an old movie about Evangel called “The Miracle College” and was reminded again that Evangel’s beginning was indeed a miracle.
This brings me to the clock tower verses that declare these truths over our campus:
To the East (and the verse I see every time I meet in our Executive Conference Room that looks out over the quad from Riggs Hall) – “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 1 Sam 7:12
To the South – “I will make known thy faithfulness.” Psalm 89:1
To the West – “With God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
And to the North – “Give thanks to the LORD for he is good.” Psalm 136:1
The message for us today is that God has been faithful – from our humble beginnings with a dream and a cluster of barracks to the consolidated University with quality classrooms and academic buildings that brought together the rich heritage and legacies of Central Bible College, Evangel University, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. God was faithful in our founding and early years. God has been faithful in our recent history and what I have called the grand adventure of consolidation. And we can trust that God will remain faithful in the plans that He has for Evangel’s future.
My own journey began here in what was largely a campus filled with those barracks. I have often shared how Evangel shaped my understanding of vocational calling as an undergraduate student and my understanding of how we are to love God passionately with our minds and hearts and hands extended in service. It was many years ago as a student at Evangel that I made a commitment to live my life as an unqualified YES to whatever God asked of me – never imagining that that journey would one day bring me back to Evangel with the opportunity to serve this school and community that I now so dearly love. We’ve come a long way since 1955 and since 2013 at the start of living into being a consolidated university.
At every season of life – choosing a university as an undergraduate student, deciding to return for graduate studies, choosing a husband or wife, choosing which road to follow as opportunities for service open before us, often in positions and locations we’d never imagined, making every day small and major decisions –we pray and listen and ask the same question: “God, what are you asking me to do now?”
This is my 45th year of living what I have embraced as a vocational calling to serve in the field of education – 25 years in public education and now 20 years in Christian higher education. Yes, I am that old. I once asked a friend how she knew God’s will when making major decisions. Her reply was simple yet profound – “I follow the peace.” And like her, I have discovered over my life that at the center of His will is a deep and enduring peace.
Last year I began asking the question, “God, what are you asking me to do now?” And over months of praying and listening, I began processing with the Leadership Committee of the Board in early fall. As I look at the strength of our community and the momentum in all areas for continued growth and flourishing, I have come to the decision that this is the right time for me and for Evangel to announce my planned retirement from the position of president of Evangel. In November I shared with the Board my intention to retire effective August 2020 but with a willingness to extend my service to May 2021 if additional time is needed for the presidential search and transition.
I also want you to know that I have reached this decision with the deepest gratitude, respect, and love for you – our students, faculty, and staff, our Board and alumni, and this extraordinary community that we serve and with the deep conviction that there has never been a time in our history when the world has more needed what Evangel University produces – men and women equipped as the body of Christ to be His presence and light in the world in every area of vocational calling and service.
I am mindful that Evangel’s story is an epic that includes a rich history of leadership. As leaders, our call is to steward our time of service to the best of our ability with God’s help and then release what has been placed in our hands to the next steward as the story continues. It has been an honor to be even a small part of Evangel’s story these past seven years as Evangel’s fourth president.
My analogy is the story of Moses and the people of Israel going to the Promised Land. And the journey of consolidation has been something of a trek through the wilderness with all of the uncertainty, change and work to consolidate three institutions to arrive at a thriving Evangel. Moses had a critical role in God’s plans for the Israelites, and in obedience to God stepped aside to allow Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land. While I have no illusions of being a Moses, I do believe God is now calling the next steward of Evangel to continue the journey, fully believing that the best days for Evangel are in sight. I am praying now for Evangel’s Joshua or perhaps Deborah.
I want you to know that I will remain a champion for Evangel and that Evangel will remain my highest priority for support and prayer and my own personal philanthropy.
It has been my highest honor to serve you, and during the remainder of my time as president I want to assure you that I will remain focused on the good work of continuing to move Evangel forward through the transition to Evangel’s fifth president.
Recorded Video of Evangel University Chapel Service
January 9, 2020
Why are you retiring now?
As I said in chapel, I believe this is the right timing for me and the university. This decision was made over months of praying and listening and last fall beginning to process the decision with the Leadership Committee of the Board. This is my 45th year of living what I have embraced as a vocational calling to serve in the field of education – 25 years in public education and now 20 years in Christian higher education. I once asked a friend how she knew God’s will. Her reply was simple but profound – “I follow the peace.” And like her, I have discovered over my life that at the center of His will is a deep and enduring peace. As a final step in my decision process, I did an extended prayer retreat in the fall where I could pull away to pray and listen deeply and sensed that this is the right time for me and for Evangel.
As for Evangel, the university has come a long way since the start of the implementation of consolidation, and I believe Evangel is on track for greater things.
I am mindful that Evangel’s story is an epic that includes a rich history of leadership across it. As leaders, our call is to steward our time of service to the best of our ability with God’s help and then release what has been placed in our hands to the next steward as the story continues. It has been an honor to be even a small part of Evangel’s story these past seven years.
My analogy is the story of Moses and the people of Israel going to the Promised Land. The journey of consolidation has been something of a trek through the wilderness with all of the uncertainty, change, and work to consolidate three institutions to arrive at a thriving Evangel. Moses had a critical role in God’s plan for the Israelites, and in obedience to God, stepped aside to allow Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land. I believe God is now calling the next steward of Evangel to continue the journey and believe that the best days for Evangel are in sight. I am praying now for Evangel’s Joshua or Deborah.
What will the next eight months look like for you?
Well, we’re not in the Promised Land yet! There are significant challenges ahead. We still have a lot of work to do, and I’m not done. The Board has engaged Carter Baldwin, one of the most highly respected search firms, which has now completed over 26 presidential searches for universities that are members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, to conduct the search for the next president. While the search is underway, we’re moving forward at full speed on all of the areas that are critical to Evangel, with particular focus on enrollment, fund development, preparation for a November site visit by our accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, caring well for the community, and supporting a smooth transition for the next president.
What will you miss about Evangel?
There’s so much that I’ll miss. Evangel really is an incredible community, and I’ll miss interacting with so many extraordinary people every day. We have amazing students, faculty, staff, and alumni. That’s not new. The same was true when I was a student. Although I graduated from both Evangel and AGTS, I also took classes at Central Bible College. The alumni of all three schools have always been extraordinary.
When you look at what the three Springfield schools have produced, it’s astounding to see the incredible success and impact they’ve had on the world.
A year ago as I was talking about our alumni and where they are serving and the level of impact they are having, someone said, “Wow, Evangel punches way above its weight class!” When I first heard that, I had to ask if that was a good thing, not realizing it was a boxing metaphor! But it’s true. Collectively, Evangel, CBC, and AGTS have produced graduates who do extraordinary things.
Think about it: We’ve had and have people who serve around the world in key positions in ministry, business, education, medicine, government, and every other area of vocational calling. God has done and continues to do incredible things through the people who have come to Springfield, not just for a quality education, but to be equipped as Spirit-empowered servants of God who live out their vocational callings in every area of service.
What would you say the legacy of Evangel is?
The legacy is seen in the people. Our mission statement says that we are committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to become Spirit-empowered servants of God who impact the Church and society globally. Our alumni do that whether in ministry or the marketplace. They glorify God through what they do, and they continue to advance the Kingdom of God.
For me personally, I will be forever grateful for what Evangel and AGTS taught me as a student so many years ago, as well as for the foundation I was given that encouraged a life of service and obedience to a vocational calling. I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given to serve and give back to the institutions that served me so well.
What’s next for you?
In the near future, I plan to remain in Springfield through the transition to provide whatever support will be helpful to the next president. Beyond that, I look forward to a bit of a sabbatical, which I’ve never had, and trust that the same God who orders our steps will continue to lead. I will be listening for that quiet voice that says, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
My father was a great example of doing just that. After he retired, he continued to serve but in very different ways, and I watched his last 10 years up close as I shared a home in southern California with my parents. In his last months, I asked if he had any regrets in coming to California. His response was that in many ways they had been the best years of his life. When he passed in 2012 and I was preparing to honor him at his memorial service, I decided to use his Bible. When I opened it, I discovered he had written and taped on the inside cover of his Bible the verse Ecclesiastes 5:20 – “They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” I have no idea when he wrote it but know it was some time after he retired. In retirement, he continued to pour his life into others and share his faith. And as I read this verse in my father’s handwriting and reflected on his last 10 years when he and mom shared a home with me, I realized that in fact God had answered that prayer. The verse just before says: “Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.”
I view my time at Evangel as a gift of God. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to serve an institution I so dearly love. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be part of the Evangel story and that Evangel has been part of my story. And I’m excited about what God’s going to do in this next season. I’ll always be a champion for Evangel.
Dr. Taylor’s leadership through consolidation
Dr. Carol A. Taylor, Ph.D., became the fourth president of Evangel University, called to consolidate Evangel, Central Bible College, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. She is the first Evangel graduate to lead the university and the first woman.
Evangel’s accomplishments under her leadership include:
- Fully consolidating the three schools and fully embedding the seminary, now led by a dean who also serves as a university vice president.
- More than $35 million in donations and grants raised.
- Enrollment growth of 8.95% for the 2019-20 school year.
- Increasing recruitment of honors students, which went from 14 a year to more than 400 honor students in attendance today.
- Creation of a new Center for Student Success to unify and focus student support services. With that and new software systems, retention rates have reached record levels.
- Bringing in a new executive team after the retirement of former vice presidents and the president of AGTS.
- Creating a new College of Adult and Graduate Studies, now led by a dean, which has allowed online and graduate studies to expand.
- Bringing in new systems and processes to improve efficiency, including customer relationship management software for Enrollment and Advancement.
- Doubling alumni engagement and bringing in more than 2,000 first-time donors.
- Creation of the Center for Compassion with a partnership with Convoy of Hope.
- Creation of the CBC Center for Vocational Ministry to enhance programs for the development of ministers and missionaries.
- Establishing a Digital Learning office, and the university now offers 16 online degrees and 7 online certificates. BestColleges.com ranked Evangel as #7 on its Best Online Colleges in Missouri in 2017. In 2013, the university offered only two online/hybrid degrees.
- Re-aligning academic programs to strategically reshape programs and course schedules, offering more than 70 cutting-edge programs while lowering teaching credit hours by 17 percent.
- Opening the Vern Clark Veterans Center, a new doctoral program in Education, a master of Athletic Training, and the cadaver lab.
- Adding three new national accreditations (Athletic Training, Business, and Counseling) and successfully completing four reaffirmations of regional and national accreditations (Higher Learning Commission, Music, Social Work, and Seminary).
- Adding 18 regional and ethnic district partnerships for the Seminary, and adding 13 church-based extension – nine learning centers and four extension sites.
- Opening University classes to high school juniors and seniors to be dual enrolled in Evangel and their high schools.
- Reducing operating expenses by more than $8.5 million.
- Launching a rebranded marketing effort with a new visual identity and a new tagline and branding guidelines.
- The creation of a new website that brought greater visibility to the university’s programs.
- The publication a re-imagined magazine that won three national awards in the Evangelical Press Association’s awards competition, including being named as the best Christian university magazine.
A high rate of success among graduates in health care professions and medical schools. Since 2013 51 EU graduates have been accepted into medical or physician assistant schools; 94% of EU premed students with a 3.5+ GPA and who scored 500 or higher on MCAT gained acceptance into medical school; 100% of biology majors who applied for PT and Dental school were admitted; 100% of nursing students passed NCLEX exam and gained RN licensure since 2015.
- Success in Education. Since 2012 seven of the Teachers of the Year from local school districts were Evangel graduates. Recent Education doctoral graduates now serve as school superintendents.
- An impact in ministry. Today 31% of current AGWM missionaries who attended Assemblies of God schools are Evangel (12%), C,BC (13%) and AGTS (6%) alumni. In a five-year average, the University provides 36 new missionaries each year. Today 68 of our alumni serve as district leaders, and ministry preparation remains the single largest area of study at the University when including the seminary.
- Building a new state-of-the-art turf field with LED lighting. The University acquired additional acreage from the National Guard and completed a campaign which funded a new turf field with lights and made other improvements to athletics facilities.
Expanded athletic programs. Men’s and women’s soccer and women’s golf were added along with new JV teams, which resulted in an increase of student athletes from 287 to 483 since fall 2014. A donor has funded the launch of men’s and women’s tennis with the goal of having teams ready to compete in fall 2020.
- A focus on academics and athletics. The expansion of athletics also kept focus on academics and service with the goal of nurturing scholar athletes who reflect the mission of Evangel. Today a number of our athletic teams are recognized for their high team GPAs (Women’s Basketball 3.6, Women’s Cross Country 3.5, Football 3.0, Men’s Golf 3.5, Women’s Outdoor Track and Field 3.3, Women’s Soccer 3.4, Softball 3.3, and Women’s Volleyball 3.5).
- Other campus improvements include several new roofs, new flooring and furniture in dorm lobbies, seminary classroom upgrades, energy efficiency improvements (saving over $115K this year in utilities costs), general maintenance, and architectural and construction planning for a new athletic field house and major renovation and expansion of the Ashcroft Center.
Dr. Carol A. Taylor serves as the fourth president of Evangel University, a position she has held since 2013. An alumna of both Evangel and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Dr. Taylor, who holds a doctorate from Florida State University, has spent her life in a variety of key leadership roles in public, private, and Christian education.
Dr. Taylor came to Evangel after serving as the ninth president of Vanguard University, located in Costa Mesa, California, from 2009-2013. She previously was Vanguard’s provost/vice president of academic affairs.
Before joining Vanguard, Dr. Taylor served for seven years as the vice provost for undergraduate education at Biola University, 12 years in executive management and research at Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey, and also taught in public education and at several state universities, including Millard Public Schools, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Florida State University, and Eastern Michigan University.
She has also been a reviewer with Vanguard’s regional accrediting association, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and she has served with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) for their study abroad programs and leadership development institutes where she serves as a facilitator and mentor for emerging leaders. She currently serves on the CCCU board of directors.
Dr. Taylor’s leadership has been recognized by a number of groups and institutions. For example, she received the Orange County Business Journal’s Women in Business Award in 2011 and was recognized two years in a row as one of the top 20 professional women to watch in Orange County, California.
She received Evangel’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2012. In May 2014, the Springfield Business Journal named Dr. Taylor to the 24th class of Most Influential Women in Springfield, Missouri, and in 2018, she was included in the 100 Most Influential Business Leaders in southwest Missouri.
Dr. Taylor has been active in various community groups and church ministries. She serves on several boards including Cox Health and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of Rotary, the Springfield Community Leadership Forum, and several other community groups.
She is an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God serving in Christian higher education, and she is a member of the General Presbytery of the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Dr. Taylor loves serving her alma mater and seeing men and women equipped to be Spirit-filled servants who impact the church and society on a global level.
It was her joy to share the final season of her parents lives by sharing a home and seeing to their care. Both are now safely home and enjoying Heaven.
She enjoys collecting stories of alumni, international cooking, entertaining, traveling, home decorating, music, a good read, exploring backroads and out of the way places, and anyone with a good sense of humor.
Read the 2018 President’s Report.