History: Office of the President

President Nicholson, Edwards, and Pistole posing for a photo with a red brick background.

Since its founding in 1917, Anderson University has been blessed by dedicated leaders. For most of its first century, four men served as our president. President John Pistole follows in this distinguished legacy. [Pictured above, from left to right: the late Robert Nicholson, John Pistole, and James Edwards.]

They have shown the way with wit, wisdom and executive skill. The fact that they survived in office for so long is less important than the fact that they have presided over the development of a truly remarkable institution shaped significantly by their wisdom, vision, sense of destiny, inspiring faith, credible lives—the qualities of true worth, the value-added dimensions that will endure.

–Excerpted from Faith, Learning and Life: Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University by Dr. Barry L. Callen

Dr. James L. Edwards

Dr. James L. Edwards served as the Anderson University President for 25 years. Prior to serving AU, Dr. Edwards was president and chief executive officer for Warner Press, the publishing house for the Church of God. Edwards graduated from Anderson University and the Anderson University School of Theology. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Policy and Leadership at The Ohio State University.

During his tenure as president, Dr. Edwards administered several comprehensive capital campaigns raising funding support totaling more than $200 million dollars. A number of major facilities were constructed during his presidency, including the Kardatzke Wellness Center, York Performance Hall, York Seminary Village, additions onto Decker Hall and Hartung Hall, a new business school, the Flagship Enterprise Center and improvements to residence halls and many existing campus facilities.

In his last year as President, he was the longest-serving college president in the state of Indiana.

Dr. Robert A. Nicholson

Dr. Robert A. Nicholson, who served as college dean for twenty-five years, came to the presidency later in life and would have only seven years until his 1990 retirement. But these years would be full indeed, full of continuity with the past and freshness for new times.

Institutional mission was reemphasized and freshly articulated. The theme of servanthood was highlighted. Enrollments held steady in an increasingly competitive student marketplace. The name university was assumed and given meaning as an adult education division was established, new graduate programs were explored, faculty development programs were initiated and the number of vital partnership with the city of Anderson, local industries, the Church of God, Purdue University, and others increased.

Campus libraries were united, their holdings automated in major new space, and the modest institutional endowment was increased significantly. Ways were being found to maintain academic strength and accessibility for students desiring this distinctive form of higher education.

–Excerpted from Faith, Learning and Life: Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University by Dr. Barry L. Callen, University Professor of Christian Studies at Anderson University

Dr. Robert H. Reardon

Dr. Robert H. Reardon assumed the presidency in 1958 and led the maturing school effectively for the next quarter of a century.

His steady hand was crucial as the troubled 1960’s were weathered successfully and the school grew to two thousand students, broadened its partnerships with the church and local community, widened the scope of its curriculum and gathered a series of professional program accreditations, assembled a new generation of faculty, and built a range of new and impressive educational facilities.

Here was one who maintained the historic roots and community traditions of the campus in volatile times by strength of personality, singleness of vision, sturdiness of faith, and the uncommon ability to hold and sway a crowd with a pointed and timely story. When his retirement came in 1983, the one chosen to be his successor had been close by his side all of his twenty-five presidential years.

Read his thoughts on the purpose and limitations of a Christian college.

–Excerpted from Faith, Learning and Life: Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University by Dr. Barry L. Callen

Dr. John A. Morrison

Dr. John A. Morrison shouldered the burden of leading a modest educational enterprise through its earliest development from a Bible training school into a liberal arts college, then surviving the Depression and World War II, and finally moving into an era of full accreditation, rapid growth, and the founding of the graduate School of Theology.

Always with a magnanimous spirit and his native Missouri wit, he was tenacious in standing for what he believed–and he surely believed in Christian higher education. This man was the heart and voice of Anderson University for nearly four decades, from his first arrival on campus in 1919 to his retirement in 1958. His was an amazing tenure and he was an unusual man who both guided and grew with the school over these many years.

When his retirement finally came, the man chosen to by the Board of Trustees to be his successor had been at his side for several years and had drunk deeply from the well of his wisdom.

–Excerpted from Faith, Learning and Life: Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University by Dr. Barry L. Callen