Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University, announced her retirement, effective June 2023, during her Andrews University Board briefing on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
Luxton has led the flagship educational institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since July 2016. The university, which was established in 1874 as Battle Creek College in Battle Creek, Michigan, moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, in 1901 as Emmanuel Missionary College, and became Andrews University in 1960.
Following Luxton’s presentation, Artur Stele, chair of the Andrews University Board of Trustees, described the search process to replace Luxton.
That process will begin immediately. It will be overseen by the Andrews University Board of Trustees, guided by university bylaws, working and board policies, and directed by a search committee made up of board members as well as university faculty, staff, alumni, and students. Stele will serve as chair of the search committee.
The 13-member presidential search committee will be chosen during an August 1, 2022, Andrews University Board meeting. The search committee will begin meeting in August and September to identify a long list of candidates to review by November. In November and December, the committee will create a shorter list of individuals to identify the final candidates for the position.
Final candidates will be formally interviewed by the search committee in January and February of 2023. Following those interviews, the search committee will recommend two or three finalists to the Board of Trustees for its March 2023 meeting. During that March board meeting, the new president of Andrews University will be elected.
An Andrews University Constituency meeting, also to be held in March 2023, will elect a new Andrews University Board of Trustees, and that new University Board will meet for the first time in June 2023 and re-elect the newly appointed president.
Under Luxton’s presidency, Andrews University thrived, even as it faced challenges, and successfully built on unique opportunities.
Those opportunities included response to the student-inspired #ItIsTime movement, which asked the university to effectively understand and respond to a challenging history of institutional racism. Luxton’s public response began in a chapel talk with the words, “We will be OK.”
A number of transformative steps on the Andrews campus then followed, including creation and hiring of the University's first cabinet-level Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion (now titled University Culture and Inclusion) position.
Luxton’s full commitment to a diverse and inclusive Andrews University is also reflected in the diversity of the global student population on its Berrien Springs campus and in deepening academic collaborations with more than 50 Adventist and public universities around the world, which has created a truly global campus.
This strategy toward being a global campus is reflected in Andrews University’s new brand statement, “World Changers Made Here,” which builds on and summarizes the university’s mission statement: “Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World.”
The most recent years of Luxton’s presidency have been influenced by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Her leadership, alongside provost Christon Arthur and a COVID-19 management team, helped guide Andrews University through a journey of online learning, hybrid learning, remote study and work arrangements, and careful monitoring and ongoing adjustment of COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
The Berrien Springs campus itself was transformed during Luxton’s presidency as well, including completion of fundraising for and construction of the Andreasen Center for Wellness and the introduction and development of the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
During Luxton’s presidency, the academic and strategic effectiveness of the university was informed by restructuring and streamlining during the 2019–2020 school year, when the university’s seven major academic units were reduced to five — four colleges and a seminary.
The most recent 2022–2025 strategic plan uses Storylines to respond to the new environment Andrews University operates in amidst the significant impact of COVID-19 on all of higher education.
Luxton’s leadership as president reflected her belief in the power of story for moments of joy and challenge. She has provided calm, steady leadership in times of crisis and has offered an array of qualitative strengths, including a commitment to empowerment, creative problem solving, and empathy. Throughout her presidency, Luxton maintained an open-door policy for employees, students, and parents.
In her early months as president, Luxton got to know the campus through indoor and outdoor tea parties for students and employees. When the COVID-19 pandemic affected graduation commencement services and the traditional handshake with the president, Luxton gamely echoed a dizzying array of hand gesture greetings from graduates once in-person graduation services began again.
Her leadership and expertise were recognized both on-campus and beyond, including receiving the Charles Elliott Weniger Society Award for Excellence and serving as a panelist on the television program American Religious Town Hall. As Andrews University’s first woman president, Luxton also served as a role model and mentor to other women leaders.
Luxton was born in Watford, England, the daughter of educators, and early developed a passion for teaching. For her undergraduate studies, Luxton attended Newbold College in Bracknell, England, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in theology and English in 1977. She continued her studies at Andrews University and completed a Master of Arts in English the following year.
She completed her PhD in English in 1986 at Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and a postgraduate diploma in institutional management and change in higher education from University of Twente, Netherlands, in 1999.
Luxton’s educational and leadership career began in 1982 when she served as Head of English at Stanborough School in England. In addition to teaching and church leadership roles in those early years, she eventually became principal at Stanborough School, and in 1997, she became president of Newbold College.
She became vice-president for academic administration and professor of English at Canadian University College (now Burman University) in Alberta, Canada, in 2001, and became its president in 2006. Luxton also served as the associate director of education to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and executive secretary to the Adventist Accrediting Association between 2003 and 2006.
Luxton became provost and a member of the Andrews University faculty in 2010, where she served until her appointment as the sixth president of the university in 2016.
An avid writer, Luxton has written for many professional publications and papers in Canada, England, and the United States. She has also written church-related articles for Signs of the Times, Adventist Review, quarterlies, and other national and international publications, and has participated in the development of other book projects, including an extended interview for the 2020 book, Campus Uprisings: How Student Activists and Collegiate Leaders Resist Racism and Create Hope.
Speaking about Luxton’s retirement, General Conference director of education Lisa Beardsley-Hardy said, “Dr. Andrea Luxton has been a stalwart champion for Adventist education from her time as a leader at Stanborough Park Secondary School and Newbold College in England, to Canadian Union College, to our flagship, Andrews University. For some years, she also served as the Executive Secretary of the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities and associate director of education at the General Conference Department of Education.
“ ‘Keep calm and carry on,’ has characterized her clear-eyed vision, unflappable perseverance and ability to communicate in navigating unexpected storms, most recently, the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. She has done this with a warm sense of humor and an uncommonly winsome communication style — she is, after all, an English professor! On behalf of Adventist education worldwide, we salute Dr. Luxton and thank her for sustained and significant contributions over a lifetime of service.”