Gordon College has just announced that its president of the past 10 years, President D. Michael Lindsay, will step down from his position next summer.
In a letter to the Gordon Community and video message, Lindsay said that he and his wife, Rebecca, “will always treasure” their time at Gordon. But he said three “major considerations” convinced him that now was an opportune time to transition to something new.
First, Lindsay said he has always believed in “institutional renewal.”
“For over a year, I have been working on a book manuscript on major transitions in life, and during that process, I increasingly sensed that the book might be speaking to me directly,” Lindsay wrote. “It was not a single epiphany, but over time, the idea of passing the baton to someone else took root in my heart and mind.”
Secondly, Lindsay wrote that a “number of milestones” were “coming to completion.” These include Gordon Game Change—a 33% tuition cut made possible by a landmark $75.5 million gift to Gordon. The school also raised an additional $49.5 million through its Faith Rising campaign.
Lindsay also wrote that he believes the campus has done “remarkably well” responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and believes the leadership at Gordon will provide “wise direction and helpful support” to the next administration.
As a final reason for his decision, Lindsay noted that the time was right for his family. He wrote that his daughters had just completed elementary school and next summer would be a good time to make a move.
Gordon Board of Trustees Chairman Herman J. Smith, Jr., echoed some of Lindsay’s thoughts.
“In the 10 years under his leadership, the College has reached important milestones that ensure we are well positioned to thrive in a dynamically changing higher education landscape,” Smith wrote in a letter to the Gordon community.
On a retrospective page, the college posted a timeline, showing milestones reached during Lindsay’s tenure. These include 9,301 new donors and more than $190 million in donations. The college also has added four degree programs and nine minors. And it has grown total enrollment from 2,017 to 2,310 at a time when many college enrollments are shrinking.
However, Lindsay did face controversy during his tenure.
In 2014, Lindsay joined with other Christian leaders and signed a letter supporting a religious exemption from President Obama’s executive order prohibiting employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity for federal contractors. When the letter became public, two cities near Gordon severed ties with the school. The college also faced new scrutiny from its accrediting association. And Lindsay became the target of intense criticism from outside groups and also Gordon alumni.
In the midst of the controversy, Gordon’s trustees voted to extend Lindsay’s contract through 2019.
Then in the spring of 2017, Lindsay again faced backlash for his stand on LGBT issues. Seven members of the faculty Senate at Gordon resigned in apparent protest after a professor claimed she was denied a promotion because she criticized Gordon’s opposition to same-sex relationships.
However, the school noted that three of the seven were already slated to finish their terms. And Lindsay stated that the resignations were a result of a “misunderstanding by some members of the faculty senate” from a conversation with Lindsay earlier that spring.
Lindsay wrote in his email to the Gordon Community that he does not know where “the Lord is calling” him and his family next. “(B)ut God has always guided our steps, and we are confident that will be the case for our next chapter.”
Gordon has launched a transition webpage to keep its community updated on the transition process. According to Chairman Smith, people will be able to nominate individuals they want the college to consider as candidates for the presidency. He said details will be posted to the website before Thanksgiving.