Q&A: Lubbock Christian University’s next president on faith, Christian higher ed and Churches of Christ
A few things you might not know about Tim Perrin, the newly named next president of Lubbock Christian University in Texas:
• He played basketball at Lubbock Christian and still holds the Chaps’ single-season record for free-throw percentage: 89.8 percent in 1981-82, his sophomore year.
• This won’t be the first time he’s served as president at Lubbock Christian: He was student body president at Lubbock Christian High School in 1979-80 and at then-Lubbock Christian College in 1983-84.
• His wife, Lucy, is a Lubbock Christian University alumnus (1986), as well. The Perrins have three children: Hannah and Sam, who attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and Will, a high school student.
“I don’t know that this is surprising, but my wife, Lucy, is the most remarkable person I know, and she will be a vital part of our work at LCU,” said Perrin, who is leaving Pepperdine, where he serves as vice dean of the law school.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Christian Chronicle, Perrin tackled questions related to his faith, Christian higher education and Churches of Christ:
Q: Tell me about your faith background. What do you recall about your decision to become a Christian?
A: My roots in the Churches of Christ go back multiple generations on both sides of my family. My maternal great grandfather, F.L. Young, was a preacher in the Churches of Christ in Texas in the early part of the 20th century. He was also the grandfather of F.W. Mattox, the founding president of LCU.
My mother and father, Elaine and Les Perrin, were both faithful members of the Churches of Christ, and when they moved to Lubbock in 1959, they placed membership with the Vandalia Village Church of Christ, where my mom, who is now 83, is still a member more than 50 years later. My dad served as an elder there for many years. (He died at the age of 79 in February of 2006.)
Vandalia was a wonderful church home. I was influenced by godly preachers and teachers. Bob Mize and Tom Milholland were preachers there during my formative years and were both important influences on me. The most important influences on my faith development were my mom and dad.
In the 1960s, one of my dad’s colleagues on the LCU faculty was KC Moser, and he had a profound influence on my dad, helping him to discover the good news of the gospel of grace. My dad grew up with deeply committed and faithful Christian parents, but brother Moser helped him understand the message of the gospel in a way he had not understood it before.
I grew up in a home in which my dad and mom lived and taught the gospel. I was baptized by my dad on a Sunday night in the spring of 1979 in the Vandalia baptistry. I remember it vividly still today. It was the natural result of a life lived with faithful parents and a strong and caring church family. I confessed that Jesus is Lord, and I continue to try to live each day in light of that reality, however imperfectly.
I’ve been fortunate to attend wonderful congregations of the Churches of Christ during my adulthood. Lucy and I attended Church of Christ South in Corpus Christi, Texas, during our five years there (1987-92) and then attended the Conejo Valley Church of Christ in Thousand Oaks, Calif., during our first two years at Pepperdine. In 1994 when we moved into a condo on the Pepperdine campus, we placed membership at the University Church of Christ (at that time called the Malibu Church of Christ), and I became an elder there in April of 2008.
Q: Why did you accept the nomination to be considered for president of Lubbock Christian University?
A: Lubbock Christian University holds a very special place in my heart both because my wife and I graduated from there and because of my family’s significant investment in the college. Both of my parents were longtime professors at LCU. My dad was the basketball coach at LCU for eight years and a longtime history professor. My mom was an English professor for many years. All of my four siblings attended LCU. My oldest brother served on the board for a time.
I have a deep sense of gratitude to LCU for what it has meant to me and my family. It is home for me in so many ways. At the same time, LCU’s future is full of great promise. Due to the exceptional leadership of Dr. Ken Jones and the concerted efforts of its talented faculty and staff, LCU finds itself at a very exciting time in its history. I embrace its vision of passionately pursuing student success and look forward to being part of a place that seeks to change the lives of students.
Q: You are just the latest Pepperdine administrator to move on to a university presidency. Is there something in the Malibu water that’s causing this?
I wish I knew the answer to this one! Pepperdine attracts highly qualified faculty, staff and administrators and then gives them interesting and challenging opportunities for service and leadership. It’s a place that values creativity, rewards hard work and has a strong spirit of entrepreneurship. I’ve been incredibly fortunate during my 20 years at Pepperdine to work closely with remarkable leaders who have beautifully demonstrated what it looks like to be a servant leader in Christian higher education.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing Lubbock Christian? Any specific plans or ideas to address that challenge?
A: The good news is that LCU is in very strong condition — its faculty is excellent, its leadership team is experienced and highly capable, and its enrollment is near all-time highs. It has enjoyed remarkable stability throughout its history, including having been led by Dr. Ken Jones for the last 19 years. It is a very good thing for LCU that Dr. Jones will be continuing his service to the university in the role of Chancellor and I am very excited about having the opportunity to work closely with him.
There are nonetheless challenges that must be addressed. One significant challenge faced by all private colleges and universities is the increasing regulatory environment. A second and related concern is affordability. LCU is fortunate that its tuition and fees have remained quite modest. Yet, we will need to continue to increase financial assistance for students as we try to limit the amount of debt students have at graduation. We will continue to seek to increase our student scholarship funds.
Another challenge that LCU faces along with many of her sister schools is the shrinking pool of students from the Churches of Christ who attend Church of Christ universities. The good news is that LCU experienced an increase in the percentage of students from the Churches of Christ in this year’s freshman class. I am committed to the university serving the church and its families. A key element of my work will be to maintain a healthy enrollment from the Churches of Christ.
Q: What excites you about Churches of Christ in 2012? Any concerns?
A: This is a big question. I’ll give a very brief and inadequate response. I believe in the ideals of the Restoration Movement and believe that a post-modern, post-denominational world provides wonderful opportunities for the message of the Restoration Movement to flourish.
I’m excited about the tremendous growth that is happening in the Churches of Christ in the Global South and especially Africa. I’m excited by the heart for service I see in the rising generation of college and graduate students from Churches of Christ. I’m excited about the desire I see for greater authenticity in our Christian walk as we seek to live incarnationally in the world. I love the statement that is attributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel always. When necessary, use words.” I’m excited about the church-planting movement that is happening in Churches of Christ in the United States and the success stories we are seeing through those efforts. I believe there is reason for optimism.
At the same time, we certainly face challenges in the Churches of Christ, including, for example: the lack of real growth in membership in the United States; concerns about many of our children leaving the Churches of Christ when they reach adulthood; and the unsettled consensus about doctrine and practice among congregations of the Churches of Christ, about which I am hopeful and prayerful.
I believe that our Christian universities have an important role to play in the future of the Churches of Christ. LCU seeks to participate in the spiritual formation of its students, preparing them for lives of service in God’s Kingdom. We want to prepare our students to be active members and leaders in their churches and communities.
Look for an interview soon with Oklahoma Christian University’s president-elect, John deSteiguer.
FeedbackThank you for this article about Tim Perrin. I was appreciative that he mentioned his family, particularly his parents, Les and Elaine Perrin, who were such wonderful and influential teachers at LCU and church servants for so many years. His mother, Elaine Perrin, was an inspirational teacher who convinced me to pursue graduate work, and I am now teaching English at LCU, in large part because of her encouragement and influence. The Perrin family is a wonderful part of LCU, and we will be proud to welcome Tim Perrin as our next President.Ronna PrivettFebruary, 16 2012I appreciated his endorsement of the “Restoration Principle”. It is commanded in Thess. 2:15 and is the beginning off the difference between the churches Of Christ and the denominational world.BillFebruary, 18 2012I am encouraged at the reference to the restoration principle. I wonder if this isn’t a pretty tall order given the influence of the post modern thinking which is already in the church and its college bound children. I would like to see a determined effort to defeat the thinking of George Barna, Richard Foster and Rick Warren. Its easy to forget in a slick electronic world that we are to confess Christ and that he testified that the works of the world were evil.john watson smithFebruary, 24 2012