Wayland's New President's Inauguration

Words of encouragement and support were the theme during the inauguration ceremony held March 21 for Dr. Paul Armes as the 12th president of Wayland Baptist University-Plainview.

Baptist General Convention of Texas director Dr. Charles Wade, in his inaugural address, echoed the sentiments of many gathered on the platform in Harral Memorial Auditorium in welcoming Armes, who officially took office Feb. 1.

"You have come to this point with great expectations and the confidence of thousands of Texas Baptists," Wade said to Armes. "With Wayland's great history and great future, you enter into a great trust. I encourage you to care for students, challenge your faculty and count on the support of Texas Baptists."

Wade spoke highly of the university, which is one of eight Texas Baptist schools, listing several reasons for its 93 years of success in Christian higher education: "Creative and committed faculty, earnest and eager students, and the support of many families and individuals, beginning with the pioneers who started this institution."

Wade ended his address by speaking to the entire audience, composed of faculty, staff, students, trustees, and delegates from other institutions of higher education.

"I challenge all of you to let the vision of Jesus guide you. He was anchored in the will of God and the word of God. But he was free to confront unbelief and hypocrisy. Let the vision of Jesus mark the vision of Texas Baptists," he said.

In his response, Armes quoted Jeremiah 13:15-16, which deals with God speaking to people.

"Wayland Baptist University was birthed by people who felt God was speaking to them. The years have demonstrated that these founding fathers heard God's call correctly," Armes said. "My service is based on the same philosophy, that the Eternal is still in the business of communicating. Thank you for the privilege of serving our Lord by serving this university. I commit myself to listening to each of you and want all of us to listen to God as well."

Board chairman Mark Murdock of Lubbock shared the qualities they were looking for in a new president and deemed Armes the ideal candidate for the position. Among those qualities the board deemed paramount were a passion and zeal for furthering Christian education, a strong sense of vision for the future of the institution, strong leadership, the ability to raise funds and a familiarity and appreciation with West Texas, its people and its ways.

Wayland's Chancellor, Dr. Wallace Davis, welcomed Armes with a story about a visit with Mabel Wayland Adams, the daughter of the university's founder, when he first took office in 1991 as the 11th president.

"She told me, 'You're not just Wayland's president, you're the caretaker of a sacred trust handed down by my father and those pioneers who established it," he recalled. "I realized that if I depended on my title and all that went with it, I was lost. I wasn't called to be president but a servant. And when challenges that faced me seemed beyond my ability, I must not forget that the same God who led me here will lead the way.

"I challenge you to respect the obligation of people who support the university, love this learning community and trust God who brought you here."

The program also included greetings to the new president on behalf of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools, from Dr. Douglas Hodo, president of Houston Baptist University; on behalf of Texas colleges and universities, from Dr. Gary Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University; on behalf of the Plainview community, from Mayor Lloyd Woods; on behalf of the faculty and staff, from Dr. Carroll Melnyk, Professor of Education and president of the Faculty Assembly; on behalf of the student body, from Daniel Gibson, president of Student Government Association; and on behalf on Wayland alumni, from Daren Hamaker, president of the Association of Former Students.