President’s Newsletter — October 2021

This newsletter from Bob Jones University’s president Steve Pettit is intended to inform BJU’s alumni and friends of student and faculty achievements and campus programs and activities. Communication regarding this newsletter may be addressed to [email protected].

Message from the President

BJU President Steve Pettit

President Pettit devoted a week of chapel this semester to our personal relationship with God. The following is a summary of the first message on the topic to students.

Have you ever wanted to change but didn’t know what to do? Have you ever gotten tired of who you are? Have you tried to live for God but can’t?

According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, changing to improve our walk with God involves first seeing the glory of God.

The glory of God is the sum of the intrinsic nature of God on display — His being, attributes, character. It is too awesome for man to look at. In the Old Testament, Moses could not look directly at the glory of God and live. In the New Testament, the Lord took three of His disciples apart and gave them only a glimpse of His glory as a brilliant light burst from His body at the transfiguration.

Because we cannot handle seeing God in His full glory, He reveals Himself in ways we can understand. God reveals His glory in creation — the heavens declare the glory of God. Creation reveals His power and might. God reveals His glory through His Son. Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among men. He revealed God by all that He said and did. God reveals His glory through the church. When we hear the Word of God preached and see its power to change man, we see the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks of a glass or mirror by which we behold His glory. That glass or mirror is the Word of God — read it and you will change. When our hearts turn to God’s Word, He takes our mask away, and we can see the glory of God.

Read the Bible every day, depending on the Holy Spirit to reveal its meaning. You will be different on the inside and your life will be transformed.

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Bob Jones University Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

In its 2022 Best College Rankings, U. S. News & World Report recognized Bob Jones University as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South. In addition, U. S. News recognized BJU in other major categories including:

  • Best Value Regional University in the South: #3
  • Top Performers on Social Mobility among Regional Universities in the South: #2
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching among Regional Universities in the South: #21

Among Regional Universities in the South, BJU is the highest ranked university for Best Value in the Carolinas.

“Our consistently high rankings reflect the value of a BJU education and an ongoing commitment to improving student outcomes,” said BJU President Steve Pettit. “BJU’s holistic approach provides an affordable educational experience which prepares our students for life after college.”

The Social Mobility ranking recognizes graduation rates of students awarded federal Pell Grants. Approximately 46% of BJU students receive Pell Grants. The average financial aid package awarded is $10,000. In the Class of 2020, 54% graduated with no federal student loan debt. The BJU Together Annual Fund, along with other scholarships and endowments such as the Opportunity Scholars Program, a four-year scholarship program for minority and refugee students, provides financial support for students with demonstrated financial need.

For the first time, BJU was ranked among Regional Universities in the South for Best Undergraduate Teaching. This ranking recognized the commitment of faculty and administrators to teach undergraduates in a high-quality manner.

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BJU to Offer Study Abroad Programs this Summer

BJU will offer eight faculty-conducted Study Abroad programs for academic credit in summer 2022. These programs include:

  • Art & Design — Florence, Venice, and Rome, Italy
  • Business — Lisbon, Portugal
  • Global Health — Ghana
  • Communication Disorders — Geneva, Switzerland
  • English — Scotland and England
  • Spanish — Petrer, Spain
  • French — Paris, France
  • Communication/English — United Kingdom

While primarily focusing on the discipline-specific topic, each course is designed to increase a student’s intercultural experience and competence. Many employers today are looking for study abroad experience or global fluency on student resumes, and participating in a Study Abroad program can give a student an edge when it comes to seeking employment.

Students will earn three or six credits per course.

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School of Education Expanding

In September, BJU’s School of Education expanded its name to the School of Education and Human Services to better reflect its growing academic offerings. The School is adding programs in the Division of Educational, Child and Family Studies for students who want to work with children, youth and families outside a traditional classroom setting.

These new non-traditional program offerings prepare students to work in fields such as social and community services, youth sports and recreation, parent/family education, early care/child development, early intervention and special education services — fields which do not require teacher licensure. These programs provide opportunities to learn and serve in real-world settings guided by university and field-based mentors.

The Division of Educational, Child and Family Studies offers two BS degrees, one in Child Development with a concentration in Early Intervention and a second in Educational Studies with concentrations in Child, Youth and Family Studies; Community Arts; Global Education; and Social Services. An associate degree in Child Care and Development and a minor in Teaching and Learning are also available. Additional programs will be added over the next year.

“BJU is well known for its excellent teacher preparation programs and graduate and adult online programs that further enable educators to hone their skills,” says Dr. Brian Carruthers, dean of the School of Education and Human Services. “These new programs expand our opportunities to provide additional students that same excellent preparation.”

198 resident students are currently enrolled in the School of Education and Human Services, 69 of which are in the new non-traditional programs.

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Nursing Simulation Lab Receives Provisional Accreditation

Students work in the teaching simulator lab in the School of Health Professions facility

The nursing simulation lab in the School of Health Professions has received provisional accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. This first step included policies and processes for the lab. Next year we will submit two years of outcomes data as we apply for full accreditation. The advantage of first gaining provisional accreditation is that a committee of people will assist the School of Health Professions through the final process. The only other institution with this accreditation in Upstate South Carolina is the University of South Carolina Upstate — no other Christian college in South Carolina has it.

In addition to its recruiting value, provisional accreditation should help BJU with community and clinical partners as we compete with other area universities for clinical spots in hospitals and other health facilities.

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BJU Seminary Announces Stewart Custer Lecture Series

BJU Seminary will hold its annual Stewart Custer Lecture Series featuring Dr. Les Ollila, founder and director of Building Great Leaders, Nov. 9. All sessions are in Stratton Hall on the BJU campus, except the chapel session scheduled for Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium.

Dr. Ollila served as president of Northland Baptist Bible College from 1984 to 2002 and chancellor from 2003 to 2013. He is a nationally recognized seminar and conference speaker in the areas of leadership training, Christian education and Christian school ministries and summer camps.

Dr. Ollila will speak at three sessions on “Where Are the Men? A Theology of Biblical Manhood,” “Faith: Leading in a Fallen World,” and “Understanding Our Mission: Absolutes vs. Relatives.” A panel of BJU Seminary faculty — Dr. Ken Casillas, Dr. Greg Stiekes, Dr. Sam Horn and Dr. Renton Rathbun — will address “The Practical Problem: Maintaining Biblical Models of Leadership in a Woke Culture.”

“We look forward to Dr. Ollila’s insights into filling the leadership vacuum in the church, both in the pulpit and the pews, and on equipping our guests and our students to speak the truth into today’s fallen culture,” said Dr. Alan Benson, BJU’s executive vice president for student development and ministry advancement who oversees BJU Seminary.

The lecture series honors one of BJU Seminary’s most celebrated scholars, the late Dr. Stewart Custer, who taught at the University and Seminary for 56 years.

The lecture series is open to the public, especially pastors. More information and registration details are available at

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Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe Addresses Students

Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe, a 1995 Bob Jones University graduate, headlined the BJU Presidential Leadership Series Monday, Oct. 11. Once a semester the Presidential Leadership Series brings to campus a well-known public leader to address the students on current issues. The goal is to increase student awareness of current issues and expose them to conservative thought leadership.

“Dr. Bledsoe’s distinguished career is the embodiment of our motto Learn. Love. Lead,” said President Pettit. “We trust the students were inspired by the way he has built on the academic foundation he acquired here at the University to achieve professional success while serving his patients and constituents.”

In 1995, Bledsoe earned a BS in premed/predent from BJU. He went on to attend medical school and complete his residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Bledsoe finished his training with a two-year fellowship in International Emergency Medicine and a Masters in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and later served on faculty with the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine. Bledsoe most recently graduated with an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For two decades, Bledsoe’s career has taken him around the world. From the North Pole to diplomatic missions for then President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton to rural hospitals, he has gained wide experience which has resulted in a passion for access to quality healthcare regardless of zip code.

He served as chief editor of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, a 700-page medical text published by Cambridge University Press and as a consultant for the United States Secret Service for multiple engagements.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Bledsoe as surgeon general of the state in 2015, and he continues to serve in that role. He is also a practicing physician in a hospital emergency department. Bledsoe is currently running for Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas.

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President Steve Pettit’s Speaking Schedule

Oct. 31, Sunday 10 a.m.
Kerwin Baptist Church
4520 Old Hollow Road
Kernersville, N.C. 27284

Oct. 31, Sunday 5 p.m.
Blake Farm
(Centerpointe Baptist Church)
1380 Old Mill Rd.
Lincolnton, N. C.

Nov. 1, Monday p.m.
Pizza with the President
Northside Christian Academy
4347 Sunset Blvd.
Lexington, S.C. 29072

Nov. 7, Sunday a.m.
Lifeway Baptist Church
7821 W State Road 46
Ellettsville, Ind. 47429

Nov. 7, Sunday p.m.
Community Baptist Church
5715 Miami Street
South Bend, Ind. 46614

Nov. 14, Sunday a.m.
Temple Baptist Church
2501 Northshore Blvd.
Flower Mound, Texas 75028

Nov. 15, Monday p.m.
Pizza with the President
Inter-City Baptist High School
4700 Allen Rd
Allen Park, Mich. 48101

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BJU Students Honored at Carolinas Communication Association Conference

Three graduate students in Bob Jones University’s Department of Communication Studies were recognized at the Carolinas Communication Association annual convention held virtually from Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, North Carolina, Sept. 24–25.

Prior to the convention, students from around the region submitted papers for consideration in the CCA’s competitive, blind review process.

Anna Harmony, BJU communications studies graduate student, received the 2021 Mary E. Jarrard Award for Excellence in Student Scholarship for her top graduate paper, “The Discourse of Discrimination.” The prize is awarded annually to the outstanding undergraduate and graduate student paper submitted to the CCA convention. Students from Coker University, Furman University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of South Carolina Aiken made it to the final round of competition. Harmony’s win marks the fourth time a BJU graduate student has won the honor since BJU joined the CCA in 2014.

Madison Avery, “Making America Share Meaning Again;” Grace Johnson, “Cancer after Remission;” and Anna Harmony, “Boss Babes,” all from Greenville, South Carolina, presented papers at the conference.

“Having a paper accepted at a regional conference is a quality academic achievement. While it is evident this accomplishment is a preparatory step toward doctoral work, it is also important preparation for success in the workplace,” said Dr. Charlotte Burke, BJU communication faculty. “Conducting research, analyzing data, drawing informed conclusions and communicating results both orally and in writing are skills that will help these students excel in their future career.”

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Center for Community and Global Health Launches Five-year Study in Ghana


As the first step in a five-year research project, last summer Drs. Amy Hicks and Bernard Kadio of the Division of Health Sciences and the Center for Community and Global Health led a team of students to Ghana to collect data on childhood malnutrition.

The team included GA Benjamin Brewer and his wife, Tarah, and 10 undergraduate students: Ethan Rogers, premed; Malachi Williams, premed; Jonah Woo, health sciences (pre-PA); Moriah Coffey, health sciences (pre-PA); Susanna Thompson, health sciences (nutrition); Damaris Scilex, biology; Brianna Donley, biology; Alexandra Klink, nursing; Erica Aaryan, public health; and JessieAnne Brunson, public health.

The team collected anthropometric measurements (weight, height, upper arm circumference) and other clinical data (anemia, malaria, diarrheal diseases) on approximately 300 school children in a school that had experienced student deaths from malnutrition. Some children were in need of acute care, suffering from malaria and intestinal parasites. The team was able to address these problems as well.

Students also surveyed parents of what they know about nutrition, what foods they have access to, and why they use some foods and avoid others. Teachers were asked if they can identify the signs of childhood malnutrition early enough to seek intervention.

“This trip gave our students valuable real-world experience with community health research,” says Hicks, chair of the Division of Health Sciences.  “In addition to the missions aspect of the trip, this study is an important piece of our academic function in the School of Health Professions and a key component of our student training.”

All of the data gathered is being analyzed by students this semester and will be used to build a nutrition program that’s affordable, culturally appropriate and scalable for the school. Drs. Hicks and Kadio will return to Ghana with students this next summer to begin implementation of the program.

“We’re at a time when Christians can no longer be silent in the research world,” says Kadio. “Christians are often good at identifying problems, but what are the concrete alternatives that Christians can offer to resolve these issues? That’s what we’re trying to do here. It’s unprecedented to offer a nutrition program from a biblical worldview and measure the change.”

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Alumni Honored at Homecoming

During Homecoming, Oct. 7–9, Alumni Relations recognized a number of graduates for their accomplishments.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a BJU alumnus who has demonstrated significant value and success over a body of work in ministry, leadership, work or service. Three awards were given in this category.

Ed Nelson: Ed was saved in 1944 under the ministry of Bob Jones Sr and graduated from BJU in 1949. He received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from San Francisco Baptist Seminary and BJU. Ed was an itinerant evangelist and planted 17 churches, helped found a Christian school, and served as President of the Colorado Association of Christian Schools. He served on many mission and education boards, and had a significant ministry in Russia. He authored several books and was instrumental in completing a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance printed in Russian.

Jamie Langston Turner: A 1971 graduate, Jamie taught elementary grades for 10 years and then moved to the University faculty. She began freelance writing and published short stories, articles, plays and poems for a variety of magazines as well as material for textbooks for BJU Press. Her first novel, Suncatchers, was published in 1995. She has since published six additional novels, four of which have been finalists for the Christy Award and two were named winners if the award in 2002 and 2007. Her novel Winter Birds was named best book for the year 2006 by “Christianity Today” and “Publishers Weekly.” She is currently finishing her eighth novel. In 2016, she retired from BJU where she impacted hundreds of lives for the Lord.

Beulah Hager: A 1950 grad, Beulah began ministering in the Dominican Republic through Baptist Mid Missions in 1952. A year later she opened Dominican Baptist School for PreK–12 which now has enrollment in the hundreds. In 1975 she moved to Puerto Rico and began working to publish courses in Theological Education. While teaching in Puerto Rico, she received a Master in Translation degree from the University of Puerto Rico. She moved back to Greenville in 1984 where she wrote two Spanish textbooks published by BJU Press and led a women’s Bible study in Spanish for 30 years.

Alumnus of the Year

The Alumnus of the Year is Alumni Relations’ highest honor and recognizes outstanding professional accomplishments, Christian leadership, devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, and loyalty to the principles of Bob Jones University.

The award was presented to 1984 graduate Lori Lott Lane, a liberal arts educator. Growing up in Colorado she was greatly influenced by her band director and developed a great desire to influence students who are often overlooked. A homeschool mom, Lori founded Artios Academies in Atlanta in 1998, a homeschool parent partnership for the arts and academics for grades K–12. Her goal is to come alongside other parents to help them fully equip their children for whatever God calls them to. Artios Academies has five locations: Gwinnett, Georgia; Sugar Hill, Georgia; West Michigan; Castle Rock, Colorado; and Greenville, South Carolina.


10 Under 10

Ten alumni who graduated less than 10 years ago and are leading, succeeding and serving the Lord in extraordinary ways were also honored.

  • Karen Schipper ’13 — Entrepreneur, brand designer and illustrator
  • Gabriel Brea de la Cruz ’16 — Actuarial analyst, SCOPE international volunteer
  • Hannah Zakaria ’18 — Former White House associate director for Operations and Communications under President Trump, director of operations at Abraham Accords Peace Institute
  • Kelly Walter ’12 — University English faculty
  • Rodney Julian ’11 — Church planter, multi-site and missions pastor at Shadow Hills Church
  • Kaipo Sotelo III ’17 — Doctor of Physical Therapy, founded The Method Supply Company
  • Meagan Ingersoll ’14 — Senior conference program manager at TG SYNNEX, commissioner Greenville County HR Commission, secretary for South Carolina Young Republicans
  • Adam Morgan ’11 — South Carolina House of Representatives, President of Majesty Music
  • Shadrach Nyeko ’17 — National missionary, pursuing Doctor of Theology degree
  • Ryan Smith ’11 — Senior manager Dixon Hughes Goodman, alumni champion for the Charlotte market

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BJU Holds First Artist Series of the Semester

On Thursday, Nov. 7, as the opener for Homecoming, the BJU Symphony Orchestra and Chorus presented “Symphonic Hollywood: The Music of Lee Holdridge” featuring internationally acclaimed conductor Richard Kaufman.

The wide-ranging program included various compositions by Lee Holdridge, including selections from his well-lived “Hymns Triumphant” and the world premiere of “Fantasy Chorale: A Journey of Joy and Hope,” commissioned especially for this performance.

In 2018, Kaufman led the BJU Symphony Orchestra in a similar program featuring the music of composer John Williams. ”We were privileged to feature two great guest artists in this concert,” said Dr. Michael Moore, chair of BJU’s Division of Music. “Many recognized pieces that are frequently presented in our annual Living Gallery productions. Every time Kaufman comes, the bar is raised, and the students really excel. Our students enjoyed preparing and performing this wonderful music, especially the new piece, for the student body and all the alumni visiting for Homecoming.”

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SermonAudio to Hold The Foundations Conference at BJU

SermonAudio will hold The Foundations Conference for pastors and church leaders on BJU’s campus Dec. 16–17.

“We’re living in a time when the church has grown in skills, manpower and money,” says SermonAudio founder Steven Lee, ”but we are seeing it have little influence on our world. Great men of God in the past who had significant influence during their time emphasized preaching the pure Word and prayer. Some of this emphasis has been lost.”

The Foundations Conference seeks to restore an emphasis on preaching and prayer as the foundations of effective ministry. It will feature a unique blend of six speakers.

  • Steven Lawson, founder and president of OnePassion Ministries. A pastor for 34 years, he is the author of 20 books and oversees the doctor of ministry program at The Master’s Seminary.
  • Clarence Sexton, pastor of Temple Baptist Church, Powell, Tennessee, and founder of Crown College. He is the editor of The Baptist Vision and author of over 35 books and booklets.
  • Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and professor of systematic theology and homiletics. He pastors Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books and president of Inheritance Publishers. He has written and co-authored 100 books.
  • John Vaughn, certified Association for Clinical Pastoral Education chaplain. He has served as an emergency room trauma chaplain and helped found the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplains Endorsers. Dr. Vaughn pastored Faith Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C. for 30 years and is the founder of Hidden Treasure Christian School.
  • Todd Friel, host of the nationally syndicated programs “Wretched TV” and “Wretched Radio.” He has authored several books and over two dozen Bible study courses.
  • Armen Thomassian, senior minister of Faith Free Presbyterian Church in Greenville. He teaches Old Testament theology at Geneva Reformed Seminary.

All sessions will be held in Stratton Hall in BJU’s Welcome Center complex, beginning Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. The conference is open to pastors and church leaders and their wives.

More information and registration details are available at Registration deadline is Nov. 18. The Conference will not be livestreamed.

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BJU Unanimously Approved as a Member of SCICU

BJU has been unanimously approved as a member of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities by their Board of Trustees. The SCICU Board includes the presidents of the 20 member institutions and up to 42 at-large members who are community and business leaders.

As a SCICU member, BJU joins 20 other higher education institutions across South Carolina, including those that are secular, faith-based and religious-affiliated, as well as five private historically black colleges and universities.

By joining this influential organization, BJU will be able to more effectively work to promote and expand access to tuition grants, collaborate on legislative issues that affect our institutions and share best practices.

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Intercollegiate Athletics in 10th Season

BJU Bruins athletic teams are enjoying a very successful 10th season of intercollegiate competition as they returned to a full schedule this fall.

For the first time since 2017, the men’s golf team won the NCCAA South Region championship and represented the South Region in nationals in Florida, Oct. 18–29. Grant Bagwell, junior business administration major from Monroe, Georgia, was named All American, the second BJU golf player in program history to earn this designation. He tied for 8th place, and the team as a whole came in 5th.

All other fall teams will be headed into regional competitions in the coming weeks. With the successful seasons they have had this fall, the expectation is for some of them to go on to nationals.

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Experiential Leadership Fellows Program Available to BJU Juniors and Seniors

Leadership Systems Inc., in partnership with Bob Jones University, is making a Leadership Fellows Program available to BJU juniors and seniors interested in honing their leadership skills.

Employers today are focused on a student’s practical learning. This program provides students with hands-on leadership training that underscores their university curriculum and campus leadership experiences to prepare them to be leaders in their community, job and relationships upon graduation.

Fellows have regular interaction with a training team that includes industry leaders, leadership experts and professional executive coaches including a monthly meeting and a 3- hour seminar with an LSI training team, online reading and response work and a semester project which includes hands-on experience to showcase leadership abilities.

To participate, students need a faculty member’s recommendation outlining their strengths as a student leader and expected future capacity for leadership. The program is part of BJU’s emphasis on experiential learning.

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