BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – Campbell University officially inaugurated Dr. J. Bradley Creed during a ceremony Friday, April 8, at the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center that celebrated Campbell as “A Place of Opportunities.”
“Campbell gives us the opportunity to make a living, to make a life—more importantly to make a difference through service to others,” Creed said in his inaugural address before about 1,300 Campbell students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends and delegates from schools around the nation. “Service is at the heart of our mission as a Christian university. Your major, your profession, your discipline, your life can contribute to the common good of society. . . .
“We have the opportunity to change the world – one course, one program, one project, one student at a time.”
Creed is just the fifth president to serve Campbell in its 129-year history, which made Friday’s installation all the more significant, said Benjamin N. Thompson, chair of the Campbell Board of Trustees who presided over the ceremony.
“This is, indeed, a great day for the university. For only the fifth time in our 129-year history, we observe the installation of a president . . . a fact that attests to the depth of commitment that each of our leaders has demonstrated.”
He added: “The driving concern of the university, since its inception in 1887, has been its students. While the university has diversified since those early years and now enrolls students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, the focus on students has never waned.”
That won’t change under Dr. Creed.
“During his short time with us, Dr. Creed has already shown us his overwhelming care and support for the students,” said Nicholas Hudson, a Campbell student and executive president of the Student Government Association. “He has also already shown us a glimpse of what Campbell will be like under his leadership, and that future is going to be great.”
That was evident Friday. Creed addressed the students directly multiple times during his inaugural address.
“There is one reason and only one reason for Campbell University — and it is you,” Creed told the students. “Before there were presidential installations, there were students and there were teachers—two essential elements for learning to take place.”
He added: “An opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something significant in your life. Campbell is your opportunity; and when God opens a door of opportunity, walk through it.”
Students also played significant roles during the Installation Ceremony and reception that followed.
Danny Allen, a piano pedagogy major from Benson, North Carolina, served as the student conductor of the Campbell University Wind Ensemble & Symphony, conducting “Shenandoah.” A 90-second video of Allen talking about how Campbell has prepared him for servant leadership was also one of two videos shown during the Installation. The other video was also a student testimonial—of Senior Army ROTC Cadet Cierra Livecchi sharing why coming to Campbell was the best decision she has ever made.
After the ceremony, Creed and his wife, Kathy, were greeted by an outdoor “human tunnel” that over 300 students formed. As the Creeds passed through the tunnel on a golf cart to ride from the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center through the Academic Circle to the Butler Chapel, where they received guests, the students cheered them on.
The students also wore attire indicative of their Campbell experience, including white lab coats, Greek letters, Orientation leader T-shirts, business suits, and athletic jerseys. One of the students who participated in the tunnel was Sue Ann Forrest, a senior and executive vice president of the Student Government Association who served on the presidential search committee that nominated Dr. Creed to the trustees.
“I wanted to be part of this tunnel because I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each and every opportunity that Campbell has given me. I would not be the person I am today without the opportunities that I have received from Campbell,” Forrest said. “The ‘opportunities’ tunnel was an excellent way to visually illustrate what Campbell means to each students. Each student has a different set of skills they bring to Campbell. However, the opportunities that Campbell gives, allow each student to become the very best version of themselves that they can achieve. I admire Campbell’s emphasis on serving those in need.”
Located in the Research Triangle Region, Campbell was founded in 1887 when there were no other schools in the areas. Campbell also opened the first law school in North Carolina in 35 years in 1976, the first pharmacy school in the nation in 40 years in 1986, and the first medical school in North Carolina in 35 years in 2013. Today, Campbell enrolls more North Carolinians than any other private university; and with over 100 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, is one of only three private schools in the state to achieve the highest level of accreditation (Level VI) by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
In the past five years alone, in addition to opening the medical school, Campbell has started degree programs in physician assistant, public health, physical therapy, homeland security, and biomedical research. In fall 2016, Campbell will become the only second private school in the state home to an engineering school when the Campbell University School of Engineering enrolls its first students.
“Through Campbell, we all have an opportunity to make a difference. And we make a difference by following a sense of calling to serve others,” Creed said. “All of our university programs yield intellectual resources and professional skills for service to humanity. Through our various programs, we engage some of the most pressing issues of society.
“A Campbell education is not a transaction,” he added. “It is a transformational learning experience that changes lives.”
An accomplished leader of mission-driven institutions and a scholar and historian of religion, Creed began his duties as Campbell’s fifth president July 1, 2015. Previously, Creed was the provost, executive vice president, and professor of religion at Samford University, a private Christian university in Birmingham, Alabama.
Since Creed became president, Campbell has received its largest humanities-related grant in university history ($593,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish a youth theology institute); received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree (BSE) and enroll its charter class in August 2016; dedicated the state-of-the-art First Citizens Wealth Management Center in the Campbell Business School; received $8 million to establish The G. Eugene Boyce Center of Advocacy at Campbell Law; hosted the 2016 Big South Men’s Basketball Championship March 3-6; and announced Campbell Law will open in Fall 2016 a fourth service-focused clinic to its roster with the addition of the Campbell Law Community Clinic. This clinic will provide backup legal services free of charge to area non-profit agencies and their clients when legal issues complicate such important steps as acquiring housing or a new career.
“We still have work to do — hard work,” Creed said. “We are not living in the golden age of higher education. The challenges facing universities are daunting but let us remember that our burden is not operating as an institution of higher education but of transforming lives.”
Others things to know about the Installation of J. Bradley Creed
- In a nod to the university’s history, the ceremony included the singing of the hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” and a scripture reading of Psalm 1. On the first day that the school opened, on Jan. 5, 1887, Founding President J.A. Campbell led the students in singing his favorite hymn “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.” He also read aloud Psalm 1. For as long as J.A. Campbell lived, the school began each new academic year with the singing of the hymn and the reading of the passage.
- Delegates from 57 colleges and universities, including most in North Carolina, attended the Installation Ceremony. Among the delegates was Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, president of Samford University, where Dr. Creed previously served as provost.
- Each person who attended the Installation Ceremony received a bookmark that bears the Campbell University seal and commemorates the date of Dr. Creed’s inauguration.
- Dr. Creed was presented with the Presidential Medallion and the Presidential Chain during the ceremony The Presidential Medallion represents the University Mace design and incorporates the University Seal, which is supported by two flanges and the Celtic Cross. The Presidential Chain bears six seals that represent the four stages of Campbell’s academic growth from an academy to a university, as well as the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARC) of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Campbell has partnered with TARC since 1979 to offer a Bachelor of Science.
What they said
A dozen speakers spoke during the Installation. Here is what they said.
- “Campbell gives us the opportunity to make a living, to make a life—more importantly to make a difference through service to others. Service is at the heart of our mission as a Christian university. Your major, your profession, your discipline, your life can contribute to the common good of society.” – J. Bradley Creed, President, Campbell University
- “Through Campbell, we all have an opportunity to make a difference. And we make a difference by following a sense of calling to serve others.” – J. Bradley Creed, President, Campbell University
- “A Campbell education is not a transaction. It is a transformational learning experience that changes lives.” – J. Bradley Creed, President, Campbell University
- “Campbell is an opportunity school for all who join this community. . . .Here in this place is an opportunity for a better life.” – J. Bradley Creed, President, Campbell University
- “During his short time with us, Dr. Creed has already shown us his overwhelming care and support for the students. He has also already shown us a glimpse of what Campbell will be like under his leadership, and that future is going to be great.” – Nicholas Hudson, President, Student Government Association
- “In such a time as this, Campbell is right for Dr. Creed, and Dr. Creed is right for Campbell. . . . His faith, his energy, and his passion for education are just what Campbell University needs. With you as our president, we believe the university is in good hands.” – David J. Hailey, Member, Board of Trustees
- “I was certain this was the right place for Brad Creed because there was a gleam in his eye that told me he found his home. Dr. Creed is a Baylor son who became a Samford brother who became a Campbell father, and the world is better for it.” – Andrew Westmoreland, President, Samford University
- “Dr. Creed left Samford a far better, more vibrant place than he found it. And in the process, he valued every relationship.” – Andrew Westmoreland, President, Samford University
- “I’m convinced from the bottom of my heart to the top of my head that Dr. Creed is the right person to lead Campbell in the years ahead. And we get Kathy, too!” – Jerry M. Wallace, Chancellor, Campbell University
- “The Lord has certainly shined His grace upon us today. I’ve never seen the Campbell support so beautiful. The sun is shining and the Lord is blessing this day.” –Jerry M. Wallace, Chancellor, Campbell University
- “Dr. Creed is a man of deep and abiding faith in Jesus the Christ. And that he has given myself in full commitment to be his disciple. It is our further belief that you have been called by God to provide the academic, administrative, and spiritual leadership of Campbell University.” – Leah Devlin, Member, Campbell Board of Trustees
- “In Christ’s name and by his grace, Campbell University has installed a president on only four previous occasions, a fact that attests to the depth of commitment that each of our leaders has demonstrated. All have been individuals of extraordinary ability, uncommon energy, sure vision, and resolute determination. Today, it is our privilege—in a solemn assembly that binds us to God and one another—to add to their company a fifth man of similar qualities.” – Benjamin N. Thompson, Chair, Campbell Board of Trustees
- “This is, indeed, a great day for the university. For only the fifth time in our 129-year history, we observe the installation of a president.” – Benjamin N. Thompson, Chair, Campbell Board of Trustees