Tabor College Presidents Blog

A visit with Dr. Glanzer

Tabor College Presidents Blog


Affirmed by three former presidents and encouraged by words of wisdom from a futuristic Christian author, mentor and friend, Dr. Jules Glanzer, a former pastor and seminary dean, who grew up on a traditional Mennonite Brethren farm, was inaugurated this past Friday evening as the 13th president of Tabor College.

In accepting the gold Presidential Medallion around his neck, Glanzer, 55, a 1974 graduate of Tabor College, said, “I love Jesus; He is walking with me on this journey. I love Tabor College; my blood is blue and gold. I love a leadership challenge; there’s plenty of that around here.

“To the best of my ability I will lead Tabor to fulfill our mission of preparing people for a life of learning, work, and service for Christ and his Kingdom,” Glanzer added. “And, to the best of my ability, I will see that the vision of being the college of choice for those who want a life-transforming, academically excellent, globally relevant, and decidedly Christian education becomes a reality.”

The grand inauguration ceremony, entitled, “Called to Serve and Chosen to Lead,” was the highlight of a weekend of activities, marking the start of the 100th anniversary celebration of the college, which was founded in 1908 by members of the Mennonite Brethren and Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Churches.

“The inauguration of a college president is a landmark event on any campus, but it’s especially true for Tabor as it celebrates its centennial,” said Associate Professor of Communications and Drama Judy Harder, who chaired the Inauguration Committee, which spent months planning every detail surrounding the event.

The inauguration was held in the campus gymnasium, which had been wholly transformed in appearance by college maintenance workers, who built a spacious stage platform and backdrop, and information technology staffers, who installed theater-style track lighting and a premium-quality sound system.

The ceremony began with trumpet fanfare and a flowing, colorful procession of program participants, including academic and denominational dignitaries and the entire faculty and staff of Tabor College, wearing academic robes, stoles and mortarboards trimmed in a bright palette of colors, commensurate with their academic degrees and the array of colleges and universities from which they received them.

The “Concerto in B Flat for Two Trumpets,” was played by Andrew Toews (senior, Hesston, Kan.) and Eric Funk (freshman, Littleton, Colo.) and accompanied by the Tabor College Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Richard Cantwell, Chair of the Music Department and Professor of Instrumental Music.

The welcome and call to worship was led by Lyndon Vix, Chairman of the Tabor College Board of Directors. The board had unanimously elected Glanzer as the first president of the second century of the college in what Vix called, “the most significant decision that the Board of Directors faced as we approached our centennial.”

Glanzer, 55, had begun his on-campus duties in January, replacing Larry Nikkel, who led the college for nine years before retiring at the end of last year.

The worship portion of the program began with “Cantate Domino, Benedicamus Domino,” sung by the Tabor College Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Bradley Vogel, Professor of Choral Music, accompanied by Toews on the trumpet, along with Meghann Eblen (junior, Leavenworth, Kan.) and Naomi Toews (freshman, Hesston, Kan.) on the piano.

The Invocation was given by Dr. Wendell Loewen, Associate Professor, Youth, Church and Culture. The Scripture (II Timothy 2:1-7) was read by Dr. Glanzer’s nephew, Nicholas Glanzer (senior, Abilene, Kan.). Glanzer’s niece, Heidi Glanzer (junior, Abilene, Kan.), represented the student body in the Litany of Installation.

The Inaugural Address, entitled, “Our Calling to Fulfill,” was presented by Dr. Leonard Sweet, E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University.

Sweet serves as a consultant to many of America’s denominational leaders and agencies. Voted two years in a row as “One of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America,” Dr. Sweet is the author of more than one hundred articles, over six hundred published sermons, and a wide array of books, including: “The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with Grande Passion;” “The Church of the Perfect Storm;” “Faithquakes;” and, “Summoned to Lead.”

Sweet’s most recent book, “11: Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without,” is dedicated to his friend, Dr. Jules Glanzer.

In his address, Sweet, a Christian historian and futurist, presented Glanzer with a variety of spiritually symbolic gifts, or “curiosities,” to enlighten his presidential trek, including a copy of the children’s book, “Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book.”

Borrowing from the letter G (which stands for goat and goo-goo goggles), Sweet said Glanzer would instead need “Google goggles” to help lead the college from the past “Gutenberg world” into the future digital age. During an interview before the inauguration, Sweet said that at first he wasn’t too happy to see his friend leave his position as dean of George Fox Evangelical Seminary, because “the world of theological education really needed his witness.”

Born October 22, 1952, in Mitchell, S.D., and raised on a traditional Mennonite Brethren farm, Glanzer’s roots are embedded deep in the faith of his forefathers. He attended Tabor College and married Peggy Todd in 1972 while a student. After graduating in 1974 with a bachelor’s in business administration, Glanzer earned a master’s of divinity in 1978 from Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, Calif., and a doctorate of ministry in 2000 from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.

He was ordained by Salem Mennonite Brethren Church, Bridgewater, S.D., and later transferred to the Evangelical Covenant Church. His vocational ministry roles included youth director, associate pastor, pastor and church planter (for the MB in Houston, Texas, and the Evangelical Covenant).

Glanzer was founding pastor of Faith Community Church, a creative, seeker-driven missional church, from 1987-2001. In 2001 he became Dean of the Seminary at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Ore., where he led a 60 percent increase in enrollment, achieved financial stability, reshaped the Board of Regents, increased the endowment and scholarship funds, was instrumental in leading the seminary in hybrid programming and fostered a high degree of faculty morale.

At the same time, as Associate Professor of Pastoral Leadership at the seminary, Glanzer taught courses such as The Practice of Spiritual Leadership, and Spirituality and Money, and served as faculty mentor and dissertation adviser.

It was there that Glanzer met Leonard Sweet, who quickly became his mentor and friend.

“Jules moved George Fox Evangelical Seminary so far, so fast that it had to be the call of the ancestors that led him to come back to Hillsboro,” Sweet said. “He has a much bigger dream for the future of Tabor College, to serve this present age.

“Lord willing, Lord tarrying, the students who are walking the campus at Tabor today are going to live well into the 22nd Century,” Sweet added. “You think we’ve seen changes? We can’t prepare them for all the changes that will happen to them, but what you can do is incubate them in this missional, relational, incarnational gospel, to help them navigate whatever changes are coming their way.”

As the Choral Response the Concert Choir sang “Be Thou My Vision,” accompanied by on the French Horn by Dustin Friesen (senior, Amherst, NY).

Words of Affirmation and Commendation were given by Rev. Don Morris, Director, Mission USA; Dr. Lynn Jost, Academic Dean of the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary; Liz Finch (senior, Austin, Texas, who attended the church Glanzer pastored in Houston); and Dr. H. David Brandt, former Tabor College President and President Emeritus of George Fox University.

As the Litany of Installation began, Vix said, “Since 1908, Tabor College has been blessed with unique leaders. Each has made distinct contributions, appropriate to the needs and emphasis of the era in which they served.

“We now embark upon a new era. It is difficult to know when a change in generations occurs. But it is likely that many view Jules as being the first Tabor president of his generation; a generation whose roots are in the 70s.

“It almost seems appropriate to start the Litany with, “Dude.” We won’t do that. But it is true that as Tabor enters its second century of service to the Kingdom of God and to the Church, we have sought the leadership of a president who combines an understanding and appreciation of what has made Tabor great for the past 100 years, with a vision for how it can be great in the next 100.”

Speakers in the Litany of Installation included, Dr. Theodore Faszer, a member of the Tabor Board of Directors, and Professor of Educational Ministries and Church Music at Sioux Falls (SD) Seminary; Dr. Lawrence Ressler, Vice President of Academics and Student Development; Susan Lehrman, Assistant Registrar; Heidi Glanzer; and Prof. Tona Leiker, Dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Studies and Chair of the Nursing Department.

The sacred portion of the program continued with Jules and Peg kneeling at an altar not far from center stage. Hands were laid upon them and Prayers of Intercession were given by the Rev. Phil Glanzer; the couple’s nephew Adam McPeck (sophomore, Gettysburg, SD); the Rev. Ken Carlson, Superintendent of the Midwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church; and the Rev. Roger Engbrecht, District Minister for the Central District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

The supplications were followed by a duet entitled, “The Prayer,” sung by Elise Hiebert (senior, Hillsboro, Kan.) and Jarod Richardson (senior, Grant, Neb.), accompanied by pianist Meghann Eblen.

Before the Presidential Medallion, Glanzer received affirmations from three former Tabor College Presidents, the Rev. Vernon Janzen (1980-87); Dr. H. David Brandt (1995-98); and Larry W. Nikkel (1999-2007).

Janzen said, “As president of Tabor College, you stand in a long line of people whose dedication, passion and competence have established this place as a place where lives are transformed and where people’s feet are set on a path for successful living.

“As we look back at the end of the first century of Tabor’s history, it is clear that our God is a faithful God,” he added. “Often we have cried out for the wisdom that only He can provide. Often we have cried out for people who can lead, teach, mentor, and inspire. Often we have cried out for the financial resources which can allow us to work and serve in this good place.

“We are thankful for God’s unfailing love for us, for not leaving us only to our own resources. For guiding us and for blessing us with a great mission which calls forth the best in us. God has been faithful in providing for our needs, for sustaining and guiding those whom he has called. For that we give thanks.”

Brandt said, “Today we stand at the threshold of a new day for Tabor College. It is a day when again, God has called His servant to leave a place of comfort and go to a new place. But we know that what God calls us to, he empowers us for.

“Take pleasure in the fact that God has called you to a work of greatness,” Brandt added. “While the responsibilities may be great, the rewards will be greater. How blessed we are that our days are not filled with the ordinary, with the mundane; but with opportunities each day to model that which matters most and which can give hope and inspire future generations to faithful living.

“Of this you can be assured, there are many who are praying that God will use you in a powerful way to carry forward the mission of Tabor College.”

Nikkel said, “Looking back is a good thing, for in looking back we can most clearly see the ways in which God’s goodness and His faithfulness to us can most clearly be seen. Yet, we stand here today not to look back but to look forward.

“We who stand with you here today understand the challenges and the opportunities that lie before you,” Nikkel added. “We are grateful that God has called you here and that you have answered his call. We pledge to pray for you and to support you in all ways that are supportive of you and beneficial to Tabor College.”

Nikkel, who wore the medallion around his neck until this point in the ceremony, handed the symbol of leadership it to Board Chairman Vix, who then placed it over Glanzer’s head, bestowing upon him the title of President of Tabor College.

Vix said, “God bless you,” then delighted everyone by adding, “Dude.”

Overjoyed by the moment, Glanzer stood at the podium and received applause for accepting a position he had not sought or applied for, but for which he was sought out by the Tabor Board of Directors, which considered him the ideal candidate.

In his acceptance speech, Glanzer said his dream for Tabor College was “quite simple and far reaching and not all that profound.”

He went on to say that his desire was for all graduates, faculty and staff would deeply and passionately love Jesus Christ, and His people, the Church. That they would give themselves in meaningful service; and, see their vocations as a way to “make the world the way God intended it to be.”

“Be they a teacher, doctor, financial tycoon; or a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, that they would give themselves in making the world right; so that the prayer we pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, in earth as it is in heaven’ would be more of a reality,” Glanzer said.

Glanzer wants Tabor College to be “the best college for the world.”

“Not in the world, but for the world,” he said.

“In the past 100 years, we have had the opportunity to shape the lives of 5,000 graduates and 15,000 students, who have been sent into the world to make it a better place,” he added. “It is not a stretch to envision that in the next 100 years there will be 20,000 graduates and over 50,000 students who will have had the Tabor experience.

“With that kind of impact, the world will be a better place. And what is so beautiful, is that this is already happening. I invite you to join me on the adventure; continuing to make Tabor the best college for the world.”

After Glanzer’s speech, the assembly was led in a congregational reading of the prayer Commitment and Covenant, written especially for the occasion and read by Dr. Richard Kriegbaum, Former President of Fresno Pacific University. Glanzer carries a copy of Kriegbaum’s book, “Leadership Prayers,” with him everywhere he goes.

The Commitment and Covenant reads, in part:

We will ensure he [President Glanzer] knows everything he needs to know. We will speak well of him, guard his integrity, and protect his reputation. We will hold him accountable and evaluate his performance, so he can constantly improve. We will laugh with him and weep with him. We will love him and his wife and we will pray often for them. We will make sure that they never walk this hard path alone. As we anticipate the glorious return of our King Jesus, we will learn, work, and grow with your servant, our leader, Jules Glanzer. This is our commitment and covenant.

The Tabor Hymn, “Redeemed of God, Come Let Us Sing,” (set to music by Dr. Jonah C. Kliewer, Professor Emeritus of Music), was sung by the choir and congregation, followed by the Benediction by the Rev. Tim Sullivan, a Tabor Board member, and District Minister for the Southern District of Mennonite Brethren Churches.

On its first day of classes, September 14, 1908, Tabor College welcomed 39 students; this number increasing to 102 before year’s end. There were 468 students enrolled at the Tabor College Hillsboro campus in the fall of 2007. The total headcount, including Tabor College School of Adult and Graduate Studies in Wichita, was 599.

In all, more than 12,000 students have matriculated since Tabor College opened its doors. Its alumni have made significant contributions nationally and internationally, providing leadership in education, research, publications, medical professions, the arts, social work, business ventures, and Christian ministries.

The grand inauguration ceremony concluded as it had begun, in recessional, with the band playing “Procession of Nobles” from Mlada as a parade of many colors and flowing robes passed back down the center aisle and into the second century of Tabor College.

Leading the parade was new President Jules Glanzer and his wife, Peg, smiling broadly, walking briskly, hand-in-hand.

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