Dr. Ron Hawkins helped lead Liberty University through some of its darkest times to the higher education powerhouse it is today. He has helped guide its growth from its humble early years to a world-class institution. Dr. Hawkins announced today that he will be retiring from that role at the end of this academic year, June 30, 2018. Retirement, however, does not mean that Dr. Hawkins will not be seen around campus. He will continue to serve as a professor for some time to come.
“I have always had the sense that God had given me a call to come here so there’s a certain sadness that comes with leaving senior leadership,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I’ll miss that, but on the other hand, I’m ready for the opportunity to relate at a deeper level to the faculty and students.”
Dr. Hawkins first joined Liberty in 1977, teaching Bible classes and Homiletics. Over the four decades that followed, he would move into various leadership roles: Department Chair of Church Ministries, Associate Provost for Adult Education, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He also played a major role in securing Liberty’s reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 2016.
“I’ve been at Liberty a long, long, long, long time,” Hawkins said. Not that he would have it any other way. Aside from a five-year period in which he left to become president of Western Seminary in Oregon, he has been at Liberty, compiling successes, building memories, and loving every bit of it.
“It’s a little hard to leave leadership. The greatest privilege of my life has been being a part of the amazing story that is Liberty. I often tell people, ‘Liberty is a phenomenon and a phenomenon is something that occurs once in a generation or once in a century. This is the first time the world has ever seen an evangelical Christian university grow to this size and make the impact that Liberty has.’”
“I can’t say enough about Dr. Hawkins and what he has done for Liberty University,” said President Jerry Falwell Jr. “This institution had some very challenging years, but through a lot of prayer and the excellent leadership of people like Dr. Hawkins, we have gotten to where we are today. His life’s work is tied very closely to Liberty. I am very happy that he is staying with us and pursuing his love of teaching. I’m quite certain his classes will be very popular among our students.”
Dr. Hawkins’ future plans include teaching graduate courses in the Rawlings School of Divinity and in the School of Behavioral Sciences, which he founded. Additionally, his plans include taking advantage of opportunities to coach and counsel faculty and students. His retirement will allow him more time in the classroom to spend with students as well as give him more flexibility in his personal life. Dr. Hawkins plans to spend more time with his wife and children, do more hunting and fishing, and stay active.
“I’m 75 years old, but I’m young in many ways,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I walk every day and run every day and have stayed active. I’ve been very healthy.”
“Dr. Hawkins is not only a great colleague for whom I have the utmost respect,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Smith, “but he has developed into a great friend and mentor. I will miss my daily contact with him, but I will be envious of his new position in life.”
Now, Smith says, a nationwide search will start to find the next leader of Liberty University academics.
“I want to end this leadership period at Liberty well,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I would like it to be said of me — he loved the university and served it well, he loved students, loved faculty, led with joy and purpose, loved the people who worked for him, and always seemed to find great joy in the tasks he performed from day to day.”
SOURCE: Liberty University News Service