The official investiture of Dr. Steve Pettit as Bob Jones University’s fifth president Friday, Sept. 19, will be an event full of firsts for the University.
For the first time in University history, the investiture of the office of the president, a traditional ceremony in the realm of higher education, will take place in a ceremony outside commencement exercises. In addition, Dr. Pettit is the first BJU president outside of the Jones family.
In a special ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in the Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium, Larry Jackson, chairman of the board of trustees, assisted by Dr. David Innes, member of the board of trustees, and Dr. Stephen Jones, former BJU president, will place the presidential medallion on Dr. Pettit, officially investing upon him the duties of the office of the president. The investiture will also include the unveiling of the University’s mace, a formal symbol of the authority of the institution.
BJU chancellor Dr. Bob Jones III considers the investiture the public starting point of Dr. Pettit’s tenure as president and is looking forward to sharing this momentous occasion for the University with the public.
“This is a window for the world to look upon something that we consider here very important,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to say, ‘Look what God has done. Look at the provision He has made for the school.’”
Members of the media will be present at the ceremony, as well as a number of public officials and heads of other universities.
The ceremony will also include a number of important speakers: former BJU president Dr. Stephen Jones, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) commission chair Dr. James Flanagan, BJU faculty representative Dr. Ray St. John, BJU alumnus and attorney-at-law Sarah Merkle and Dr. Pettit’s best friend and BJU alumnus Dr. Marty Herron.
BJU men’s student body president Matthew Arnold will also speak, presenting a challenge to the president from the student body. This address will revisit input given this spring by the students as to what they wanted to see in a new president.
Rather than just an academic event, Arnold sees the investiture as a public display of the providence of God.
“It’s a special time for us as a university to show off what the Lord is doing here and how He’s provided a new president for the University,” Arnold said.
Dr. Bob III echoed Arnold’s sentiments, saying that God provided a new president because he still has big plans for the University.
“It is another chapter revealing the faithfulness of God, showing He’s not through with this place yet, and with all my heart, I believe that there is more need of BJU in this generation than in any previous generation. I see it as God at work.”