As part of its homecoming weekend celebration, Southwestern Christian University (SCU) inaugurated Dr. Tom L. Murray as the 13th president of the 72-year-old institution on Saturday, November 3, 2018.
The ceremony began with an announcement by Dr. Adrian Hinkle, vice president of Student Affairs, followed by a processional of robed faculty, administration, and special guests. Following a welcome from Bishop Randell Drake, chairman of the board of trustees, President Murray received greetings and pledges of support from Miss Abigail Yates (students), Mr. Danny Nix (alumni), The Honorable K.P. Westmoreland (city of Bethany), and Bishop Tommy McGhee (International Pentecostal Holiness Church).
In his introduction, Bishop Talmadge Gardner encouraged Murray “to let the Holy Spirit lead you as you fulfill your professional roles in scholarship and service.” He went on to remind the president that “God has been faithful in the past, so He will not desert you in the future.”
President Murray has a long history with Southwestern Christian University, receiving his A.A. in Pre-Law and his B.A. in Theology with a minor in sociology from the institution. In addition, Murray earned his M.A. in Public Administration/Urban Affairs, Political Science from the University of Central Oklahoma. He also holds a Doctor of Religious Education and has been awarded two honorary doctorates of divinity. Murray previously served in various positions at SCU, including director of Public Relations, dean of College Relations, director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs, chief operations officer and chief academic officer.
Throughout the ceremony, President Murray received several symbols of investiture including the university mace, which signifies a commitment to the finest standards, values, and traditions. IPHC General Superintendent Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr. presented the new president with a King James Bible and charged him, “to live according to this Word so that the blessings of God will flow like a mighty river over you and over this institution.” This inaugural Bible will become the official Bible of Southwestern Christian University and will be presented to all succeeding presidents as a symbol of the university’s foundation.
Former SCU presidents Dr. Frank Tunstall, Dr. Leroy Baker, Rev. Bob Ely, and Dr. Ed Huckeby presented the chain of office. The central piece of this “necklet” contains a medallion with the university’s seal surrounded by links engraved with the name of each president. After the presentation, the presidents and special guests gathered around the first family as Presiding Bishop Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr. led in private prayer.
In his inaugural address, President Murray stated that the cornerstone of Southwestern Christian University is faith and learning, “We remain committed to the inerrant and authoritative Word of God.” He feels the university’s main responsibility is to move forward with confidence and embrace the challenges that lie ahead.
Acknowledging that Christian higher education is changing, Murray remains committed to developing Christian leaders who will influence their world. He envisions the university as a global center for Christian thought, spiritual renewal, and ministry preparation. President Murray says, “We will continue to give emphasis to the development of a Christian worldview that is paramount to the nurturing and success of our graduates.”
Murray concluded, “It is my job to dream bold dreams. We are a bold university.”