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The Fifth President of Evangel University

Dr. Mike Rakes

Dr. Mike Rakes, Evangel’s fifth president, is an experienced educator and dedicated minister of God’s truth to students. Driven by the Holy Spirit, Dr. Rakes is passionate about guiding Christians to get on board with the ways God is moving in their communities. With a depth of knowledge in higher education, long-range strategic planning, and community engagement, Dr. Rakes is an effective leader committed to the work of raising up future generations of Christ followers.

Spirit-Driven Leadership

In every duty of the presidency, Dr. Rakes relies on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to chart the course for EU. Recognizing the Spirit as the source of empowerment and inspiration for all believers, Dr. Rakes has placed special emphasis on building a university experience that immerses students in the Spirit’s presence. From powerful chapel services to special times of fellowship and fun, Dr. Rakes is engaged in the work of introducing EU students to the power of the Holy Spirit in their everyday lives.

Their Story

The Rakes

Mike is an educator, motivator, author, pastor, and storyteller, and both he and his wife, Darla, are passionate about cultivating the Spirit-inspired virtues of compassion, service, and truth in the lives of students. As a couple and ministry partners, the Rakes are a dynamic team dedicated to the gospel-oriented work of the Church through Christian higher education.

Building the University of the Future

Basketball on campus

Valor Courts

Under Dr, Rakes’ leadership, Evangel’s campus is undergoing significant and necessary transformation, including the installation of Valor Courts and the major overhaul of gas and water systems.

University Chapel

University Chapel

The addition of full-stage LED screens and a new sound system in Spence Chapel have enhanced the chapel experience for students, faculty, and staff.

Student Union hall

Student Union

The renovation of the Cantrell Student Union, including the installation of LED screens and a karaoke stage, is another notable transformation on campus.

here. now. Campaign logo.

Here. Now.

In July 2022, Evangel announced the Here. Now. Campaign, a set of campus upgrades to enhance the student experience. Learn more about the Here. Now. Campaign at the link below.

Evangel University campus

A Commitment to Innovation

In his mission to make Evangel the Spirit-driven university of the future, Dr. Rakes envisions that every EU graduate will be a compassionate innovator. No matter their vocations, God is calling Evangel to impact the world as creative problem-solvers, dynamic risk-takers, and caring community members, and those virtues start in the classroom. With over 70 degree programs, EU students receive a Christ-centered education from a faculty of top scholars and practitioners, equipping them to become the compassionate innovators of tomorrow. Learn more about Evangel’s academic programs below.

Books by Dr. Mike Rakes

Sling and Stones book cover

Slings & Stones: How God Works in the Mind to Inspire Courage in the Heart

Surrendered & Unafraid book cover

Surrendered & Unafraid: The Flourishing of Faith During Seasons of Suffering

Evangel on The College Tour

Evangel University is proud to be featured in season six of The College Tour, a TV series showcasing colleges and universities of distinction across the United States!

Evangel on Viewpoint

Evangel University is featured as a premiere institution of higher education on “Viewpoint,” hosted by Dennis Quaid, an informative series that delves into diverse topics impacting society, ranging from science and technology to arts and culture.


2021 – Present: President, Evangel University

2006 – 2021: Lead pastor, Winston Salem First, Winston-Salem, NC

2009-2012: Founder, Bridges Christian College, New Orleans, LA

2000-2006: Vice President for Student Development, Southeastern University, Lakeland, FL

1993-1999: Department Chair (Practical Ministry) and Professor, Southeastern University, Lakeland, FL

1996-2003: Church planter, GreeneWay Church, Orlando, FL

2000-2006: Consultant and Curriculum Writer, The Character Company, Myrtle Beach, SC

1991-1996: Senior Pastor, Calvary Assembly, Winter Haven, FL

Mike Rakes


2021: Published second book, Surrendered & Unafraid: The Flourishing of Faith During Seasons of Suffering

2015: Published first book, Slings & Stones: How God Works in the Mind to Inspire Courage in the Heart

2013-2021: Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Oral Roberts University, Leadership Committee member

2009: Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach with Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)

2006: Created church-based cohorts for M.A. degree in Florida and North Carolina