Joel Pearsall took over as interim president at Northwest Nazarene University nine months ago as the private religious college was feeling strain over faculty-administration relations and the fate of a popular theology professor.
The school’s board of trustees named Pearsall, 57, its 13th president Monday and announced a four-year contract. He also has served as vice president for financial affairs and vice president for university advancement.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve,” Pearsall said. “In terms of what lays ahead for NNU, really I think the primary objective will simply be to encourage, to inspire and to empower our faculty and staff to do the great work they have already been doing.”
Pearsall followed David Alexander, who resigned last May after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a student 25 years ago. Faculty gave Alexander an overwhelming vote of no confidence on faculty governance issues and other academic and leadership issues.
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Pearsall promised to be a collaborative leader. Pearsall wasn’t involved in his own selection, and trustees said they worked hard to seek advice of faculty, administrators and students for a permanent replacement to Alexander.
Trustees met with faculty and listened to their ideas and suggestions, said Rhonda Carrin, a theology professor. “Joel was the person,” she said.
“Joel has excellent relational skills and is a collaborative leader,” said Randy Craker, board chair. “He brings a listening ear, a sharp mind, a warm sense of humor and an ability to make tough decisions.”