It was a grand morning of pageantry and ceremony on Friday, October 26th as Hannibal-LaGrange University inaugurated Dr. Anthony Allen as our 17th president.
A recorded greeting was given to Dr. Allen from President Emeritus Dr. Woodrow Burt who was unable to attend due to his being abroad, teaching for a semester at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. "I offer my congratulations to Dr. Allen, the HLGU Board of Trustees, and the HLGU faculty and friends," Burt said in the message. "With his strong faith, solid experience, and clear vision, Anthony Allen is the right leader to take Hannibal-LaGrange University to the next level."
Similar greetings were also given from Dr. Bob Agee, President Emeritus of Oklahoma Baptist University and Dr. Kevin Shrum of Midwestern Theological Seminary who told HLGU “you are getting a jewel.”
The inaugural address was brought by Dr. David S. Dockery, President of Union University. Many have called Dr. Dockery “the game-changer” because of the great steps he has made in advancing Union University and the Southern Baptist Faith. He is the author and editor of 35 books and, in the past 15 years, has more than doubled enrollment at Union and more than tripled the number of donors.
In his address he said “the president of a Baptist university needs the mind of a scholar, the caring spirit of a pastor, the savvy of a business leader, the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros.”
Dr. Dockery also addressed Dr. Allen and the audience equally with his message continually going back to the point that the Lord is preeminent in all things, is the only one who satisfies and “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:3.
Following the inaugural Address, Dr. Lawrence Clapp, friend and mentor to Dr. Allen, gave the inaugural charge and prayer. “There’s power in personal touch,” he said to Allen. “Share your heart with their heart…Take time to touch people with faith because the people who are going to build this school are the students you send out of here.”
The climax of the event was reached when Dr. Allen was presented with his presidential medallion by Rev. Terry Buster, Sr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees who quoted Isaiah 66:2 saying “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
After receiving the medallion, Dr. Allen gave his Presidential Response saying “I’m here simply because there’s a long line of good people along the way who invested in me, who made me a priority, who gave me a good start in life.”
He also listed his Four Pillars of Administration that he believes should hold up Hannibal-LaGrange University. “We need to be distinctively Christian, demonstrate doctrinal and denominational commitment, be academically excellent, and be strategically focused.”
He continued, saying “excellence in Christian higher education must begin with a stellar faculty and I’m committed to investing in the faculty to see that we have the necessary resources to fulfill our mission to teach and to educate students.”
During the ceremony, Dr. Allen was also presented with resolutions from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Missouri State House of Representatives and the City of Hannibal.
Other inaugural events included a special chapel service and dinner on Wednesday, an evening commemorating the history of HLGU on Thursday, an inaugural reception following the ceremony, and a concert featuring Big Daddy Weave and Aaron Shust on Friday.
Senior Pastor Steve Dighton and Worship Pastor Bill Shiflett of Dr. Allen’s home church, Lenexa Baptist Church, were our special guests at Wednesday morning chapel. Rev. Shiflett and his wife Kerri led the congregation in praise and worship followed by a message on servant leadership from Pastor Dighton. As a special surprise, Dr. Allen closed chapel by singing Chris Tomlin’s version of “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.”
Wednesday night, students dressed up for the Student Steak Supper in the cafeteria. Those in attendance were served either prime rib or chicken with a cordon bleu sauce in addition to creamy mashed potatoes, a bread bar, and cherry, blueberry, or apple cobbler.
Thursday night, two of HLGU’s ministry groups, The New Edition and Priase Song, along with the media communications and theatre departments presented the story of HLGU from its start in 1858 to present day. Afterwards, a dessert reception was held in the lobby of the Roland Fine Arts Center.
After the Inauguration on Friday, the President’s reception was held on the blue court in the Mabee Sports Complex. Later on, the day was rounded out with a well-attended concert from Aaron Shust and Big Daddy Weave.