January 29, 2015 | 1 Comment
J. Bradley Creed speaks to Campbell University faculty and staff during a Jan. 29 “Meet & Greet” event at Butler Chapel. | Photo by Billy Liggett
BUIES CREEK -- The Campbell University community got its first opportunity to shake hands and chat with the University’s President-Elect, J. Bradley Creed, during several “meet & greet” sessions on campus Thursday.
Creed, currently the provost and executive vice president of Samford University in Alabama, will succeed Jerry M. Wallace as Campbell’s fifth president in 128 years on July 1. Until then, he has just over six months to familiarize himself with the University and its people. Thursday -- which included an introductory speech in a Butler Chapel filled to capacity with faculty and staff, lunch with student government and student organization leaders and two more greeting sessions with deans, department heads, and coaches, and with students and alumni -- was a crash course in “getting to know Campbell” for Creed, his wife Kathy and daughter Carrie Grace.
“The school has been very hospitable and warm from the beginning,” Creed said in his speech to faculty and staff Thursday morning. “We felt a very strong calling to this place, and we’re very excited about this and looking forward to the days ahead.”
Unanimously approved by Campbell’s Board of Trustees on Jan. 2 after a six-month nationwide search by a search committee, Creed talked about the interview process that began with him “minding my own business” when he first received a call from the search firm about the position. Happy with his life and work in Alabama, Creed said the hard part was getting him to sit down for that first interview with search committee and Board of Trustee Chairman Ben Thompson.
“The rest of it was relatively easy,” he said, “because it was clear to me from the beginning that Campbell was a very special place with a wonderful, rich history.”
Creed’s six-minute speech blended praise for the University and President Wallace with humorous bits about his birthday -- he and Wallace share a birthday, April 20, with one of history’s most notorious figures (he encouraged the crowd to Google it to learn more) -- as well as the moving process (he’d rather walk with one shoe to Kansas City and back than pack and move), and getting an “I’m happier than a camel on Hump Day” sign from his daughter, Carrie Grace, who was also on hand for Thursday’s events.
His plea to the faculty and staff was simple -- expect of him what they expect of themselves.
“You can expect me to work hard, which I’ll try to do every day,” he said. “Expect that I should give my best, that I learn your names and take the time to know this place and listen to you. Be patient and forgiving, because it won’t be a matter of whether or not I make a mistake; it’ll be just when. And remember that every day, we have remarkable opportunities to make a difference in the lives of students. And every one of us is a catalyst for changing someone’s life. And I hope while you do this, you have a really good time doing it.”
During Creed’s two-hour luncheon with student leaders, he and Kathy shared the story of how they met at Baylor University (both are natives of Jacksonville, Texas) and answered questions about everything from the possibility of a new student center to Creed’s thoughts on Greek Life and the proposed School of Engineering.
Wallace called Thursday “historic,” noting it’s the first time a Campbell president will not have had a history with the University, whether as a student, professor or administrator.
“This is a fluid kind of experience, because it’s the first time Campbell has done anything like this -- presidents have always been on the scene,” Wallace said. “But today, we are beginning a tradition that probably will continue throughout Campbell’s history. Not that we will not have a president that will not come from the university, but we will look across this nation and look carefully for the person we believe is prepared uniquely for Campbell at a special time in its history. I’m convinced from the bottom of my heart and the top of my head that [the Creed family] is the family that the Lord has prepared for this special day in the life of Campbell.” — by Billy Liggett
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