Robert Graham will become the next president of Redeemer University College. The Board of Governors of the Ancaster, Ont., institution announced the appointment in June, following just over a year-long search. Graham has a Master of Gerontological Studies from Miami University and a PhD in sociology from the University of Cincinnati along with 10 years of successful leadership experience in Christian higher education. The presidency has been vacant since Hubert Krygsman stepped down midterm in 2016. Fred Verwoerd, the school’s vice president of administration and finance, has served as interim president from December of that year.
“It’s been a challenging process, and we wanted to be thorough. The search committee was made up of members from the board, faculty, and alumni. We really tried to draw from Redeemer’s community,” said Jason Schouten, the current chair of Redeemer’s Board of Governors and co-chair of the President Search Committee.
The committee employed an executive search firm to aid the process, having the firm screen applicants using a detailed profile and providing analysis on the top leads to the committee. After interviews this past spring, Graham was the clear choice. His success at Grove City College and Waynesburg University, two Christian institutions in Pennsylvania, demonstrated his leadership capabilities. His leadership style also set him apart from other candidates.
“He prefers to lead through listening, caring, and connecting. It was clear that he takes the time to really listen to people and takes notice of how people are feeling,” explained Schouten. “Also, he sees the importance of bringing people and departments together, a commitment to connecting the whole, seeing the broader view.”
Upon hearing the recommendation of the search committee, the Board of Governors unanimously appointed Graham as Redeemer’s next president.
“It was exciting for our board, all in complete support of the committee’s recommendation” Schouten said. “We are excited about his passion and his natural fit with Redeemer.”
The search committee included very specific questions about the Reformed worldview in the comprehensive profile questionnaire and in its interview.
“Dr. Graham demonstrated a solid understanding of the Reformed worldview. Even though he wasn’t raised in a Reformed community, he is a Reformed thinker and he is excited to connect with a university founded with a Reformed worldview and share our mission,” said Schouten.
Redeemer has faced significant changes since 2012, when it experienced a drop in enrollment: shifting faculty and administration, restructuring their program offerings, and working to reduce long-term debt.
“We’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions, but we have seen real commitment from the board, administration, faculty, and staff. The financial situation has stabilized, and enrollment is showing a slight increase,” said Schouten.
Graham recognizes these struggles. In a press release issued by Redeemer, he noted, “I have become increasingly aware of the unique and evolving challenges facing Christian education. My experiences supporting different Christian institutions have prepared me to be a strong advocate for Redeemer University College.”