The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor has named Dr. John S. Vassar to be the school’s new provost & senior vice president for academic affairs. Currently the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Dr. Vassar will begin at UMHB on June 1, 2017. His selection culminates a nationwide search process that began last May.
“Dr. Vassar’s deep appreciation for our Christian mission and his open and creative approach to leadership make him a perfect fit for our UMHB community,” said Dr. Randy O’Rear, president of UMHB. “He is a distinguished and gifted administrator and scholar, and he fits the high bar set when our provost search was launched—a visionary leader deeply committed to Christian education, academic excellence, innovation, and collaborative leadership.”
As a key member of the president’s leadership team, Dr. Vassar will serve as the steward of UMHB’s academic priorities, planning for the future of the university’s academic programs, advocating for student success, and contributing significantly to UMHB’s next strategic plan.
A native of Shreveport, Vassar earned his bachelor's degree in history from LSU Shreveport, his master’s degree in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Baylor University. He is the author of numerous articles in the fields of philosophy, religious studies, and film studies, as well as the book Recalling a Story Once Told: An Intertextual Reading of the Psalter and the Pentateuch. In addition to his academic work, Vassar has served churches in both Texas and Louisiana as an intentional interim minister, having undergone the training program for intentional interims through the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Vassar joined the LSU Shreveport faculty as a professor of humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. He taught in the Master of Liberal Arts core and served as a faculty senator and member of the Faculty Senate's Executive Committee. He served as chair of the Department of Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, and Humanities prior to his appointment as provost at LSUS. As provost, he helped implement the State of Louisiana's first Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in digital arts as well as LSU Shreveport’s first doctoral degree in leadership studies.
“I am thrilled about the honor of serving the remarkable faculty, students, and staff of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor,” Vassar said. “The Baptist vision and Christ-centered learning community of UMHB resonates deeply with my own vocational calling. I eagerly anticipate joining the UMHB family to continue to build the school into the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest.”
Accompanying Vassar in his move to Texas will be his wife, Karen, and their three children: Hannah (21), Bethany (18), and Paul (14).