WASHINGTON – In an inspiring and compelling ceremony marked by an extended standing ovation, Edward O. Blews, Jr., was inaugurated today as the new president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
“Today I stand before you deeply humbled and highly honored by the profound privilege of leading the great and glorious cause of Christian higher education as the sixth president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities,” Blews told distinguished guests and presidents of CCCU member institutions. “Today the adventure begins. Today we embrace the future. Today, together, we fast-forward in faith, celebrating and carrying the cause of Christian higher education.”
The inaugural luncheon and inauguration ceremony were held on the first day of the CCCU’s annual Presidents Conference, which concludes Friday. The selection of Blews was announced last July by the CCCU Board of Directors. Blews served as president-elect for the remainder of 2012 and officially assumed the title of president on January 1, 2013.
The enthusiastic and affable Blews said his appointment to this position ushers in the culmination of his 28-year career with a calling to “the great cause of Christian higher education.” Referring to his wife, Debra McKenna Blews, who also has deep history and relationships with CCCU member universities, Blews told the audience that the presidential search committee selected a “presidential partnership” when they appointed him. McKenna Blews, a J.D. who also holds an L.L.M. degree in international law, has been named a CCCU Senior Fellow.
Blews is no stranger to the CCCU. His long relationship with the Council began as student body president at CCCU member Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Wash., and has continued throughout his professional career. More recently, he served as a member of the CCCU board of directors for three years.
Among several tributes, Blews was lauded in special video greetings by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, for his commitment to and advocacy of Christian higher education.
Blews validated this praise by highlighting his six visions for the CCCU, calling them his “presidential pledges” and “associational aspirations” for member institutions. “The CCCU will be the persuasive, powerful, enthusiastic, joyful, courageous, indefatigable, unapologetic advocate for the great cause of Christ-centered education wherever decisions are made affecting us, whether in the halls of Congress, the corridors of the White House, the chambers of courts, or any other forum,” he said. “We will not be daunted by any challenge [or] intimidated by any force. We will be the happy warriors for a great and godly cause.”
Other initiatives Blews outlined were:
Preceding Blews’ address, David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), offered a word of special greeting and recounted the challenging political and economic climate under which Blews assumes his leadership position. Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, and Carl Zylstra, CCCU search committee chair, also shared greetings and affirmation of Blews’ new role in higher education leadership.
It was for addressing these types of challenges that the CCCU selected Blews, said Kim Phipps, CCCU board chair and president of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., in her official introduction of Blews. “In these complicated times of simultaneous challenge and opportunity for Christian higher education, Dr. Ed Blews possesses the vision, experience, and skill to effectively lead the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and its membership. The board of the CCCU is eager to work with Dr. Blews to ensure a healthy and robust future for Christian colleges in the United States and throughout the world,” she said.
The charge Phipps gave to Blews on behalf of the CCCU Board of Trustees as he begins his tenure was an affirmation of his call to be a voice and champion for the global movement of Christian higher education and its people and an exhortation to fulfill this call through a life of prayer and deep faith in Christ. Setting the tone for a prayer-covered presidency, Charles “Chip” Pollard, vice chair of the CCCU Board of Trustees and president of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., offered a prayer dedicating the new president to service.
“Christian colleges and universities play a unique role in advancing the kingdom of God by ministering to the mind as well as the heart, and by educating the heart as well as the mind, by integrating faith with learning,” Blews said in his address. “Historically, higher education in this nation began grounded in the conviction that God is the beginning and the source of wisdom...and CCCU’s Christ-centered colleges and universities truly and faithfully integrate academic excellence with biblical truth.”
“I believe that the CCCU will embrace the challenges of the future with faith, enthusiasm, joy, energy, and confidence that Christ who began a good work in the CCCU will carry it on to completion.”
Immediately preceding his appointment as president of the CCCU, Blews served for 28 years as the president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan (AICUM). In that role, he was the organization’s chief executive officer and the advocate and voice of 49 Michigan independent colleges and universities, representing more than 122,000 students. A familiar face in the United States and Michigan Capitols, Blews is recognized as a national leader in the movement of independent higher education with a reputation as a passionate and enthusiastic advocate.
Over the past three decades, Blews has served in leadership roles with NAICU, including being elected to its Board of Directors, and the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives (NAICUSE), which he chaired at one time. He also recently chaired the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, a congressionally authorized collaboration between public and private higher education leadership, state higher education leaders, and the U.S. Department of Education that is working to improve higher education data and policymaking.
Blews has served as an alternate Michigan commissioner to the Midwestern Higher Education Commission and Compact, which consists primarily of legislative and gubernatorial leaders. He has also chaired the boards of several prominent Michigan organizations with some of the state’s top leaders.
Blews earned his juris doctor degree in 1989 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., and he has been awarded honorary doctorates from eight institutions, including CCCU member Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Mich.
Edward and Debra Blews have four children: Dr. Edward Blews III, Christine Blews Lipske, Lauren Blews, and Rob Blews. They also have one granddaughter.
About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 171 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 118 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 53 affiliate campuses from 19 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.