Education

‘Inappropriate relationship’ in Northwest Nazarene president’s past led to resignation

David Alexander abruptly resigned in May as president of Northwest Nazarene University after allegations surfaced of an inappropriate relationship he had with an NNU student more than 25 years ago.

Details about the relationship with a female student were released over the weekend after a statement from Randy Craker, chairman of the Nampa school’s board of trustees, was posted on the university’s website.

“Upon learning of this disconcerting news, I and the NNU general counsel met with Dr. Alexander,” Craker said in his letter. “When confronted with the information, Dr. Alexander acknowledged the inappropriate relationship. The board accepted his resignation on May 11, the day following commencement.”

Alexander did not return a call to his Nampa residence.

Craker said he learned of the relationship in late April, after he was contacted by someone who alleged Alexander — who had served as president since 2008 — had an improper relationship with a student while Alexander served as a faculty member. Craker said he immediately contacted university attorneys to conduct an investigation.

During the investigation, the former student was contacted and met with the attorney looking into the matter. The person confirmed the information, Craker wrote.

Craker said he and the entire board faced difficult choices in deciding whether to share the information.

“We discussed going public with the information; however, because it happened over twenty-five years ago, what we did not want to do was further harm the individual who had been involved,” Craker wrote. “At the same time, we also agreed that Dr. Alexander needed to be accountable for past actions. As a result, we accepted his resignation and sought to proceed in a manner that would maintain confidentiality for the individual involved.”

The university, he said, was concerned about victimizing the woman a second time. He said the school did not want to hide the information, but to allow those involved to control if or when the information was shared with the public.

“Our hearts go out to the person who has carried this secret for over twenty-five years,” Craker said. “We are deeply saddened by what occurred. Our hope is that with her public release of this information, she can find healing and receive ongoing support. She has been and will continue to be in our prayers.

While acknowledging that inappropriate relationships between faculty or staff members and students were “very rare,” Craker said they are “inexcusable.”

“The policies of the university are clear regarding such behaviors. As a board, we are committed to upholding these polices,” he wrote.

The university has not received any further allegations of misconduct or inappropriate relationships involving Alexander, Craker said.

Alexander taught music at NNU from 1986 to 1991 and served as department chairman and director of the Northwesterners, a choir ensemble. Students named him Professor of the Year in 1989. He later became chair of the music department at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla., and subsequently vice president of university advancement before being named to replace retired NNU President Richard Hagood.

After he became NNU president, Alexander said he wanted to keep the Christian higher education tradition strong.

“It’s my job to oversee that we don’t just talk about higher Christian education — that we actually make that a part of our DNA in all programmatic offerings,” Alexander said in a 2009 interview with The Statesman’s Bill Roberts.

The NNU campus was rocked last spring when the school announced the layoffs of six faculty members. Other faculty members were incensed that they were not consulted before the layoffs were announced.

Among those laid off was theology Professor Thomas J. Oord. Critics suggested that Oord was targeted because of theological differences with the university, an accusation Alexander denied.

The layoffs — which brought a faculty no-confident vote against Alexander — were later put on hold until after a panel appointed by the board looked at a proposed budget reallocation.

At the time Alexander’s resignation was announced, nothing was said about the improper relationship, only that the president’s departure followed a faculty revolt triggered by the layoffs that were then placed on hold.

Alexander was replaced by Joel Pearsall, who previously served as NNU vice president for university advancement. Pearsall was named interim president and could serve for up to two years as NNU looks for a permanent replacement.

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