Northwestern begins presidential search process

Northwestern College has begun the search process for a successor to President Bruce Murphy, who announced in October his plans to retire upon the hiring of a new president.

The Rev. Jon Opgenorth, senior pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City and member of the Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee, has been appointed chairman of the Presidential Search Committee. Joining him are fellow Executive Committee members Deb Locker, Orange City; Drew Vogel, Orange City, board chairman; and the Rev. Roger Voskuil, pastor of First Reformed Church, Sioux Center.

Other search committee members include Karen Barker, professor of theatre and speech; Barb Dewald, associate dean of spiritual formation; alumnus and board member Arlan Draayer, Milford; John Greller, vice president for advancement; Dr. Kim Jongerius, professor of mathematics; alumnus Wayne Kooiker, Orange City; junior Sarah Kreger, Council Bluffs; Dr. Jasper Lesage, vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Jeff VanDerWerff, associate professor of political science; and Tonya Van Peursem, Sioux Falls, S.D., president of the National Alumni Board.

“We have assembled a very strong committee representing various constituencies of Northwestern,” says Opgenorth. “I have sensed among them a willingness to work hard together as we begin the noble task of finding the next president of Northwestern College.”

The search committee will be working with People Management Inc., a firm that has been involved in more than 250 executive searches in the fields of higher education, ministry and business. People Management has assisted in searches for many schools that, like Northwestern, are members of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Two of the firm’s managing directors, Robert Stevenson and Dr. Tommy Thomas, will be working most directly with Northwestern’s search committee. Stevenson is a nationally known management consultant in senior management selection, organizational design and theory, executive coaching, succession planning, and workplace change and innovation. Thomas, who has over 16 years of experience in executive search and management consulting, has led searches for clients such as the NAIA, World Vision, Azusa Pacific University and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  

Stevenson met with Northwestern’s Executive Committee and Presidential Search Committee on Nov. 21 to work out a timeline for the search process. One of the first steps will be for representatives of People Management to come to campus and interview faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members in order to develop a profile for the position. Once the profile is complete, advertising will begin.