Of all Taylor University presidents, few have held positions as presidents prior to leading the office at Taylor. Even fewer have come from other institutions.
President Michael Lindsay, as he enters his first year at Taylor University, opens a new chapter with his presence on campus. To better understand how he ended up here, the following timeline is an overview of his career with a primary focus on his time in academia.
Lindsay received his Bachelor of Arts in English and Speech from Baylor University. Afterward, he worked in a corporate trainers office and as an assistant to Gary Cook, the president of Dallas Baptist University at the time.
He then pursued his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and his Master of Arts. and Doctorate in Sociology from Princeton University. During this time, Lindsay worked for Gallup Poll and directly collaborated with George Gallup, Jr. on numerous projects.
Lindsay entered his career in academia at Rice University as a professor. Over his years at Rice, he was promoted to the director of the program for study of leadership.
“Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite,” Lindsay’s first book, was published and nominated for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize.
Lindsay was inaugurated as the eighth president of Gordon College.
“Thomas Merton once wrote, ‘You are made in the image of what you desire,’” Lindsay said in his inaugural address. “Stretching the mind, deepening the faith, and elevating the contribution. That is our calling; that is our desire. I pledge to do everything in my power to guide and equip the next generation of Christian leaders with a framework of faithfulness as they influence cultures throughout the world. And I trust you will join me in this effort.”
Modeled from the White House Fellowship, Lindsay established the Presidential Fellows Program at Gordon, which partners exceptional students with senior administration to develop their leadership.
Gordon launched DEEP FAITH week, an annual event with special morning and evening chapel gatherings for spiritual emphasis on campus.
Gordon hosted its first-ever NEXT Summit, an annual professional development conference for educators.
Lindsay published his second book, “View From the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World.”
Lindsay signed a privately-addressed letter to former U.S. President Barack Obama appealing for a religious exemption in his LGBTQ+ policies in the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibited discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.
The letter was signed by 14 Christian business and organization leaders from across the country. Of the signatories, there were five organization CEOs, two nonprofit leaders, two pastors, one former congress member, one political consultant, one magazine editor, one university institute director and one college president.
After the letter became public, Gordon was brought into a national discussion about LGBTQ+ rights.
In a letter to campus later that month, Lindsay apologized, saying the intent of the letter had been mistaken. He affirmed that the college had not changed their policies regarding admission or employment, but was advocating for religious liberties as a whole.
“I feel badly that this has resulted in confusion, hurt feelings and disappointment among the Gordon community, which was not what I intended,” Lindsay wrote.
Gordon College’s “Life and Conduct Statement,” a part of their student handbook, states that the Gordon community is to follow all the behavioral expectations of Scripture in regards to gender and sexuality.
Gordon developed the Shalom Statement, which defines Gordon’s commitment to shalom as it pertains to the affirmation of human dignity and the flourishing of community.
“We are under no illusion about becoming a perfect community, because of the fallen nature of humankind,” the statement reads. “But we are committed to an ongoing process that pursues a biblical vision of community and honors the image of God present in each person. In this community, Christ is the head by his sacrificial death on the cross, which has made relationship to God possible; interdependence is essential; and the Holy Spirit provides the ability and courage for ongoing reconciled relationships.”
Tenured Gordon professor Lauren Barthold filed a civil rights suit against Gordon College and Lindsay after she received disciplinary measures for talking publicly against the college's LGBTQ+ policy.
Barthold claimed Lindsay and his board demoted her and removed her from leadership following her statements in a local paper and The Boston Globe. Barthold said her free speech was breached by the college’s actions. The case was settled privately and Barthold stepped down from her position to pursue a fellowship elsewhere.
Lindsay reported the forthcoming donation of $25 million to the college from an anonymous donor, which increased the endowment by 50% and made more scholarships available for students.
All members of Gordon’s Faculty Senate resigned due to an ongoing disagreement with Lindsay and his administration about governance. Specifically, the senate members cited issues with approving faculty promotion.
The faculty promotion in question was for tenured professor Margaret Deweese-Boyd. She later sued Gordon, Lindsay and former Gordon provost Janel Curry, citing the school was infringing on her freedom of speech by preventing her from promotion because of her public criticism of Gordon’s policies. Her case is still ongoing.
Lindsay addressed the U.N. as the keynote speaker of the 33rd annual International Prayer Breakfast. The event was held alongside the opening of the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly.
In his presentation to 225 international leaders, he called diplomats to acknowledge their weaknesses alongside their strengths and lead with authenticity.
Lindsay encouraged the use of this approach for the benefit of all.
“The world is praying you will succeed in advancing a world where everyone can flourish, not just the wealthy, not just the powerful,” Lindsay said. “And our young people are looking for you to set the tone for global leadership, hoping you can model an alternative approach.”
During the school’s 130th anniversary celebration, Lindsay announced another donation of $75.5 million from the same anonymous donor from 2017. This is the largest sum of money ever donated to a Christian college.
The donation allowed Gordon College to offer 15% more financial aid for the upcoming school year and increase merit-based scholarships.
In an article Lindsay wrote for the Gospel Coalition, he said that donation came from a donor whom he had a strong relationship with. For four years, Lindsay had been praying for a donation of that caliber to bring greater stability to the college.
“It came as a true gift, a breathtaking blessing I could not imagine when I first began praying for it,” Lindsay wrote.
Lindsay introduced the donation in partnership with a five-year fundraising campaign called Faith Rising, which sought to raise $130 million for the endowment.
Gordon College decreased tuition by 33% based upon the success of endowment fundraising.
Lindsay announced his tenth and final year at Gordon College.
“For over a year, I have been working on a book manuscript on major transitions in life, and during that process, I increasingly sensed that the book might be speaking to me directly,” Lindsay wrote in the letter to campus. “It was not a single epiphany, but over time, the idea of passing the baton to someone else took root in my heart and mind.”
To honor his time, the college published “A Defining Decade,” highlighting the various areas of growth Gordon experienced during Lindsay’s time, including enrollment, diversity and finances.
During his leadership, overall enrollment grew by 15% and graduate enrollment grew by 250%. This growth included both international, which increased by 8%, and domestic minorities, which increased by 9%. Additionally, the faculty increased its population of women by 24% and doubled its population of people of color."
Taylor University named Lindsay as the new president after former President Lowell Haines and took over for former interim President Paige Cunningham.
The decision was made unanimously by Taylor’s presidential search committee and board of trustees.
“We look forward to working together to facilitate his entrepreneurial vision of leading, empowering and equipping a thriving team to move creatively and strategically into the future,” Manuel Rosado, Board Vice-Chair and Search Committee Co-Chair, said in the university press release.
Additionally, “Hinge Moments,” Lindsay’s newest book, was published.
As the Faith Rising fundraising campaign came to a close, Gordon announced it raised $185.5 million total, $55.5 million over its original goal. During Lindsay’s 10 years at Gordon, the college received 44,180 gifts that totaled $190,816,452, including 9,301 new donors.
Through this and Lindsay’s restructuring, Gordon’s net assets tripled and debt decreased by 24%. It also increased the college endowment by 263%, established over 40 new scholarships and created four new endowed faculty chair positions.
Lindsay was inaugurated as the 18th president of Taylor University.
To read Co-Editors in Chief Holly Gaskill and Ellie Tiemens’ dialogue regarding this timeline, see "Editors Explain: Michael Lindsay's professional career."