Southern Wesleyan University announces Dr. William Barker as new president as of July 25, 2022

Dr. William Barker

Dr. William Barker

CENTRAL, S.C.—Southern Wesleyan University has named Dr. William D. Barker as the University’s 19th president, following Dr. William C. Crothers, who serves as Interim President since Dr. Todd Voss retired in June 2021. Southern Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve Dr. Barker, who will begin his presidency on July 25, 2022.


“We are grateful to be able to welcome Dr. Barker as president of SWU,” says Reverend Jerry Lumston, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “We were blessed with a strong slate of candidates, but his broad gift set and endearing spirit provide a clear mission fit for us at this key juncture in the SWU story.”

“We are thrilled to offer the presidency of Southern Wesleyan University to Dr. William D. Barker,” says Reverend Michael Hilson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The University has conducted an extensive national search and had several outstanding candidates to consider. Dr. Barker is uniquely prepared to lead our university. He has outstanding academic credentials with a Ph.D. from Cambridge, an extensive record of publications and presentations, and impressive administrative leadership experience. His military service has been exemplary, and his entrepreneurial skills have been demonstrated through successful business start-ups and nonprofit service. We welcome Dr. Barker and his wife, Sara, along with their three children to Southern Wesleyan University.”

Equipped with robust academic and administrative experience, Barker is currently located at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, as the College’s Founding Executive Director of the Global Honors Institute and Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry. Since returning to his alma mater in 2016, his areas of leadership include advancement and fiscal management, faculty leadership, admissions recruitment, as well as research and curriculum oversight.

Dr. Barker received his Bachelor of Arts from Gordon College in Biblical and Theological Studies (Jewish Studies concentration) and International Affairs (Middle East Studies concentration). He received a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2003. In 2007 he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Middle Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Cambridge University, England.

With a pastoral heart, Dr. Barker currently serves as a chaplain with the United States Air Force Reserve. As a decorated combat veteran, Barker has applied his academic expertise on deployments to nations in the Middle East and Africa including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait. Outside of the military, Dr. Barker has preached and pastored in many different contexts.

Entrepreneurial success and significant management expertise in business also characterize Dr. Barker’s leadership. His business acumen in diverse settings includes military ministry operations impacting 20,000 Air Commandos and their families, across seven locations nationally and overseas. He is the founder of Horizons Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry in Quincy, IL, a nonprofit ministry started with a one-time grant of $4,000 and two volunteers. Its annual budget is now approximately $2 million, has over 300 volunteers and serves more than 50,000 hot meals per year to those in need. Dr. Barker’s innovative business skills are also demonstrated by his successful launch of a privately held marketing firm that raised an average of $200 million in new assets managed for each client. At Gordon College, Dr. Barker’s leadership brought academic centers into financial stability, and he played a key role in raising or realigning over $77 million.

Dr. Barker and his wife, Sara, have three children: Aidin (12), Catharine (8), and Isaiah (6), and they will soon welcome a daughter whom they are adopting from India.

A strong believer in Christian higher education, Barker says SWU is an important institution that needs to be guarded and stewarded well. “I believe SWU and I are aligned with a vision for a biblically faithfully, financially affordable, vocationally effective, and academically rigorous institution,” Barker said. “My family and I look forward to being part of this community for many years to come.”

About Southern Wesleyan University: Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused, faith-filled community that offers inventive learning experiences. The University endeavors to prepare its students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, visit swu.edu.

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