Inauguration highlights Tabor College centennial kickoff

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, "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 staff members, 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 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 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.

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.

"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 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."

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, S.D.); 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.

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).

Nikkel, who wore the medallion around his neck until this point in the ceremony, handed the symbol of leadership 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 to 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."

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.

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.