The Student Movement


President Taylor and Pastor Anderson Completing Their First Year

Nate Miller

Photo by Nathaniel Reid

The 2023-24 school year began with two changes, among others, in prominent Andrews University positions: President Andrea Luxton and Pioneer Memorial Church Senior Pastor Dwight Nelson retired from their positions and AU welcomed President John Wesley Taylor V and PMC Senior Pastor Shane Anderson. 


Initial reactions to these positional changes were mixed. Some “sources close to the university” were concerned about the incoming president’s limited experience leading institutions of higher education and some of the incoming senior pastor’s views regarding homosexuality, Christian participation in sports, and the Catholic church — but both university leaders’ integrations into the AU community are now complete: they have become familiar fixtures in the university.

President Taylor, in one of his first major decisions, significantly altered the job description and title of the university’s chief diversity officer position, which was formerly filled by Michael Nixon, who departed from the university after the Spring 2023 semester. Students and community members organized a petition against the change in the diversity position that has, at the time of this writing, garnered almost 1,200 signatures. In March, the president announced that the position would be filled by Dr. Willie Hucks, who has chaired the Andrews University Seminary Ethnicity, Race, and Social Justice Committee for eight years.


Another recent major decision from President Taylor was the announcement of the Creation Care Council. One of his principal presidential goals, he laid out in a late February chapel service, is to identify “ways in which our University can best fulfill its mission to care for God’s creation.” He has emphasized conscientiousness regarding the environment at all levels of the university — from its students to its administration — and has shown that he will take on-campus environmental issues seriously.


Meanwhile, Pastor Anderson has established himself as head pastor at PMC. Promoting campus unity, his sermons have largely been politically neutral; he has generally avoided speaking about the opinions that drew controversy upon his initial appointment. His sermons often feature relatable personal anecdotes and specific instructions for how to apply the principles he discusses. Students and university community members are growing accustomed to his signature stool and down-to-earth sermon delivery.


Both Taylor and Anderson have shown that they prioritize connection and conversation with university students and community members. Anderson makes frequent appearances after weekly vespers services and on the basketball court, while Taylor frequently appears at weekly chapels and cafeteria lunches. Their constant presence in the fabric of university life adds to the close-knit feel of the school and shows their commitment to serving the university.


While there was administrative shakeup in the beginning of this school year, both Pastor Anderson and President Taylor have shown their commitment to the health of the university through their active commitments to causes they are passionate about and to the community they are involved in. At present, President Taylor and the university administration more generally are dealing with significant financial challenges facing the university and the anticipated demographic drop in college-age students in the United States in the years 2025-2030. However, in the words of President Taylor, there may be changes and challenges, “but we have a God who specializes in challenges.”


Sources (in order of underlined sections)

The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.