Sandra Gray announces the hire of a new vice president for student development

By Karis Rogerson
News Editor

On Jan. 13, President Sandra Gray announced that Dr. Sarah Thomas Baldwin would take over the position of Vice President for Student Development, replacing Dr. Doug Wilcoxson.

Wilcoxson will move on after two years at Asbury to assume the role of Executive Vice President at Spring Arbor University in Michigan—the same school that Asbury’s current provost, Dr. Jon Kulaga, left in 2007 to join Asbury’s administrative staff.

Wilcoxson will join Brent Ellis, whom he described as “a best friend of mine, whom I’ve known for 22 years.” Ellis was just named president at Spring Arbor and invited Wilcoxson to join him.

“It’s something we’d talked about for years–that we would do that with one another if the time ever came,” Wilcoxson said. He continued, saying he will look forward to having the opportunity to work with a friend with whom he has “a oneness of spirit and purpose.” 

As for what Wilcoxson considered his greatest accomplishment at Asbury, he named the partnership between student development and academic affairs, as the departments moved toward each other in the effort of creating a more seamless community. Additionally, Wilcoxson is proud of the investment he made in the staff of the student development office. “There’s a phenomenal team that is here in the division of student development that Dr. Baldwin’s going to be inheriting,” he said, recognizing the work that Dr. Troyer, his predecessor, also put into building up the staff. 

Over the past two years, the landscape of the student development office has changed. There have been several new hires, such as Heather Tyner, assistant director for student leadership, and Becca Warta, administrative assistant for residence life and campus ministries. Tyner and Warta replaced Deb Vetter, the previous associate dean for student success, and Lora Cuckler, the previous administrative assistant for residence life and campus ministries. 

“I think anytime a leader comes in, they just assess what are the directions that are best within the mission of the university…so I probably have been directly involved in some of the new hires,” Wilcoxson said in regards to his involvement in the changing landscape of student affairs.

As far as his regrets or things he wished he had done differently, Wilcoxson said he has none.

In regards to his short time at Asbury, he said, “If I were making a decision based on convenience, and what’s easiest and just the wonderful things that are happening at Asbury, I would stay here.” 

Nonetheless, he spoke of his excitement for the university and for Baldwin herself, saying, “She’s inheriting a wonderful time; I think God has provided abundantly in the midst of this transition.”

Baldwin will come to Asbury from Oregon, where she served as university pastor and dean of spiritual life, inclusion and leadership at George Fox University. She is a 1993 graduate from Asbury, and she described her time as a student as one that allowed her to nourish deep friendships, experience self-growth and stretch in her leadership capacities, especially through her time as an RA and, later, an ARD. Her undergraduate years were “foundational for [her] worldview, particularly in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.”

While Baldwin expressed some concern over the challenge of, as she said, “Stepping into the shoes of a series of amazing leaders,” few others seemed to share her concern. “Dr. Baldwin has a heart for the holistic formation of our students,” Gray said in an article on the university website. Wilcoxson spoke of his excitement, saying he believes that Baldwin “will bring incredible leadership from a Christ-centered, spiritual vibrancy perspective, from a team-building one…and will invest in and minister to students’ lives.”

Vangie Pattison, who worked at George Fox as director of alumni and parent relations for three and a half years and is a friend of Baldwin’s, said, “She’s super fun, a great mentor and has a wonderful family.”

Baldwin expressed her own excitement about the impending transition, saying, “I am delighted to come and serve Jesus at AU. Students inspire me and I am greatly looking forward to new connections!”