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Christian University Lipscomb Inaugurates First Woman President Candice McQueen

By Erik Tryggestad
candice mcqueen lipscomb
Candice McQueen speaks at her inauguration ceremony on March 29, 2022 at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kristi Jones / via The Christian Chronicle)

A solitary bell tolled 13 times, once for each decade of Lipscomb University’s history, as black-and-white photos of its past presidents appeared on the giant screens of Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

There was James A. Harding, who cofounded the institution with David Lipscomb in 1891. Then followed names including E.A. Elam, E.H. Ijams, Batsell Baxter — who served twice — Willard Collins, Harold Hazelip, Steve Flatt and L. Randolph Lowry III. Sixteen men in all.

Finally, there was Candice McQueen.

As she watched the faces of her predecessors flash by, it wasn’t the uniqueness of her role as Lipscomb’s first female CEO that stood out to her, McQueen said. Rather, “it was more the history and the legacy of stewardship that I need to carry forward.”

After six months on the job, McQueen was officially installed as Lipscomb’s 18th president on March 29 among a crowd of students, alumni and dignitaries from the realms of academia and politics. The institution, which is associated with Churches of Christ, has 6,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs plus its K-12 school, Lipscomb Academy.

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For McQueen, a 1996 Lipscomb graduate, the emotional high point of the ceremony was watching a video of Hazelip, who was president during her years at the university. Now age 91, Hazelip wished her success and God’s blessing on her presidency.

“Who knew that this many years later that I would get an opportunity to follow in his footsteps?” McQueen said.

candice mcqueen lipscomb
Candice McQueen celebrates with her family as she is installed as Lipscomb University’s 18th president. (Photo: Kristi Jone / via The Christian Chronicle)

When asked about the significance of serving as her alma mater’s first female president, she said she aspires to “be a role model to all students, but yes, to females who aspire to be leaders … to show them that it is possible. You can be a leader. You can carry your faith forward. You can be what you want to be.”

McQueen, 47, worked as the dean of Lipscomb’s College of Education from 2008 to 2014 and also as a senior vice president for one year. At the end of 2014, former Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, appointed her to oversee the Tennessee Department of Education, a high-profile role she held until 2018. Before her appointment at Lipscomb, she worked with the nonprofit National Institute for Excellence for Teaching.

This story first appeared in the Christian Chronicle.

Erik TryggestadErik Tryggestad is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. He has filed stories for the Chronicle from more than 65 nations.



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6 Responses

  1. She may never know if it was her chromosomes or her talent that got her there, in this crazy day and age. I trust it was talent; but boosting her because of her sex makes what should be about talent about sex. A woeful example of how the church follows the world.

    1. David, there were 16 Presidents before her, all men. She is the first woman president at this institution. It is as simple as that. IMO you disrespect her by your comment. Would you say the same thing about the newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice?

    2. uh, that is so misinterpreting this moment in the history of the school……not a good look for your human progress

      1. Robert,” how is this not a good look for your human progress.” You’re upset because they installed a woman President

    3. Why can’t it be both? That someone is talented AND they provide a perspective and experience as a woman (or Black woman in the case of SC Justice Jackson) that not only is overdue to be heard/represented, but also makes them uniquely qualified?
      Why is it an “either/or”?

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