Loren Gresham announced he will retire July 31, 2017. At that time he will have led Southern Nazarene University as president for 28 years. For the 22 years preceding his presidency, Gresham served SNU in other administrative, teaching, and coaching roles.
"Linda and I are grateful for the privilege to have served at Southern Nazarene University for these past years," Gresham said. "Our commitment to the mission and our love for the people for whom we have worked and with whom we have served are the hallmarks of our experience here. We have more yet to accomplish and hope that our remaining time of service will be among our most productive."
Loren Gresham came to SNU, then Bethany Nazarene College, in 1967. He became a Fulbright Scholar and was granted leave for the 1970-1971 academic year to do research in New Zealand. Gresham was named provost of the university in 1985, and in 1989 the SNU Board of Trustees elected him to be the institution’s 14th president. He is now the longest-serving president in the history of Southern Nazarene University and also in the history of SNU’s sister Nazarene institutions. Additionally, he’s currently the longest serving president of any college or university in the state of Oklahoma.
“Dr. Gresham’s record of leadership at SNU is unsurpassed,” said Brad Moore, chair of the SNU Board of Trustees. “He leads with wisdom, passion, and vision. Both he and Linda care deeply about SNU’s students, faculty, staff, and constituents. That’s evident in everything they do.”
During Gresham’s presidency, SNU has had 27 consecutive years of balanced budgets, and last fall’s total enrollment of 2,254 was the all-time high to that point in SNU’s 117-year history.
“When Dr. Gresham retires next July, it will have been 50 years since he arrived here as a young political science professor," said Terry Rowland, the board’s vice chair. "And in the years he’s served as president, about 36,000 degrees have been earned at SNU. That means nearly 80 percent of all degrees granted by SNU since the school’s founding in 1899 have been granted under his presidency.”
Gresham served at various times as chair of the Board of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, comprised of nearly 250 member and affiliate institutions, and as chair of the Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. No stranger to athletics, he was the head coach of the SNU men’s basketball team that won the 1981 NAIA National Championship.
Gresham is an inductee in the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame and was named to the 2014 class of Most Admired CEOs in Oklahoma City. He has served on the boards of the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and Integris Baptist Medical Center.
“Dr. Gresham confidentially informed the SNU Board of Trustees last May of his retirement plans,” Moore said. “We immediately initiated steps to ensure strong presidential transition. That’s clearly a top priority in the year ahead, but the board’s support for Dr. Gresham’s leadership will continue unabated throughout the coming year, as well. Together we’ll energetically pursue both existing and new initiatives to make 2016-2017 a great year for SNU.”