Freed Names New President

Written by Drew on January 14th, 2008

After much deliberation, Freed-Hardeman University has chosen a new president to succeed Milton Sewell, who stepped down in June to serve as the university’s chancellor. Joe Wiley, president of Rogers State University in Claremore, OK, has been selected to lead the small Christian university in Henderson, TN.

Freed has released a statement from Dr. Wiley, which reads,

I am thrilled that the board of trustees has entrusted me with the leadership of this wonderful university. Dr. Sewell has accomplished great things during his long tenure with the university. I look forward to stepping in and continuing the great history of this university and the presidents that have served here. I can’t wait to get started.

From the article in the Christian Chronicle, it appears that the board of directors were most impressed with Dr. Wiley’s experience demonstrated at Rogers State, which became a four-year institution and has seen its enrollment grow 65 percent since he took the reins in 1999.

Dr. Wiley’s background is in mathematics. The only spiritual qualities that were mentioned in the Christian Chronicle were given by an elder Dr. Wiley served with at the Seventh and Beech Church of Christ in Durant, OK, who said he was “very outstanding, likable, friendly.”

Many of us who have graduated from Freed-Hardeman have been anxiously awaiting this announcement, hoping to hear that our beloved institution would be led by someone with proven spiritual character, a leader in the vein of N.B. Hardeman, H.A. Dixon, and E. Claude Gardner.

Milton Sewell did a great job during the 18 years he was president. The enrollment has grown, many new structures have been built, and the school still stands on Scriptural principles. But with President Sewell, Freed’s board of directors proved that they were no longer satisfied with preachers serving as president. It seems that they have decided to continue down this road. At least President Sewell had served as president for Mars Hill Bible School. What do we know about Dr. Wiley’s values?
I realize that universities are held to higher academic standards these days and that Freed-Hardeman needs a president who understands these things, as well as a leader who possesses the spiritual values that have made it a great place for Christian young people for so many years. I trust that will learn more about Dr. Wiley’s spiritual qualifications in the next few weeks.

Pray for Freed-Hardeman as she begins this new phase. Some of us have kids that need a good Christian college in a few years.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. ~k says:

    Hi Drew,
    I came across your blog while doing a search for Dr. Wiley. I, too, am a concerned “Freedie” and am very interested to learn about FHU’s new president. I only know what I have read in the press releases thus far. My only comment has been that I am disappointed that the new president never attended FHU. It seems like it would be easier to love and lead an institution where you had attended yourself. Not to say he won’t love and lead well, and I know that’s not the only thing involved in selecting a president…just my thoughts. Thank you for your thoughts as well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a fellow Oklahoman and a Freed Alum I have never heard anything but good things about Dr. Wiley, his work at RSU, and the churches he has been a part of and led.

    I think we should give Dr. Wiley and the board a chance. Drew, I think that for some reason we in the church are increasingly suspicious of each other, I don’t perceive that attitude when I read the New Testament. I would take with a grain of salt anyone who makes a comment and refuses to leave a name.

    To “Anonymous”
    James 4:11 says, “Brothers, do not slander one another.” Ephesians 4:2-3, Says “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient , bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace “

    Tom Dahman
    Tulsa Oklahoma

  3. Tyson Wynn says:

    Hey folks,

    I’m not afraid to attach my name to this.

    If you have only heard good about Wiley, you simply have not spoken to the right people or followed any of the court cases he’s been involved in.

    While budgeting at FHU, there needs to be a line item for litigation and settlement expenses.

    I have followed several of the incidents at RSU and concerning Wiley and his cohorts on my personal blog:

    Additionally, I have first-hand knowledge of which I speak, as I am a former RSU employee during the Wiley admin. (I was not fired. I had enough and left.) I was also sworn in as a special process server in one of the federal lawsuits against him, and I personally served him with legal process in that case after strenuous efforts to do so. My affidavits regarding that matter are a matter of public record.

    So, don’t dismiss every critical report as unimportant or the utterances of a flake.

  4. Drew Kizer says:

    Because of the nature of some of these comments, I felt I needed to delete the anonymous ones. If someone wants to make an accusation, he should be willing to give his name. It’s a small price to pay for putting a man’s reputation on the line.

    I will say more about all this when I feel that I have enough information. For now I will say that there were two reasons for what I wrote in my announcement about Dr. Wiley: (1) I wanted to announce that Freed-Hardeman had a new president; (2) I wanted to highlight the importance of Christian education.

    I never intended to mar Dr. Wiley’s reputation or that of my alma mater. I fully expected the comments to reflect good, spiritual qualities about the new president that would help him in the eyes of Freed-Hardeman’s alumni. Instead I got a lot of court cases and hearsay. I know there’s more to this story. I believe in the board of directors at FHU and their ability to choose a fine man to lead the school. I am confident that soon I will be able to bolster that belief with the facts.

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