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Office of the President

President Melson smiling while standing in front of globe water sculpture

Richard J. Melson, Ph.D., President

Richard J. Melson, Ph.D., was elected the 26th President of Southwest Baptist University by the Board of Trustees on Aug. 19, 2021, and began his service as President on Sept. 7, 2021. SBU celebrated his inauguration on March 2, 2022.

Dr. Melson brings more than 25 years of transformational leadership to SBU’s administrative team. He has a passion for equipping the next generation of servant leaders to impact the world for Christ.

He joins SBU from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, where he served as Vice President for Advancement and Associate Professor of Business Administration since July 2016. Accomplishments while at Cedarville University include:

  • Leading a $125 million comprehensive campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in Cedarville University's history
  • Securing the largest gift commitments in Cedarville University history, including a $12 million lead gift for a Welcome Center and Liberal Arts Building and a $10 million lead gift for a new Business Building
  • Raising more than $95 million, more than the previous 15 years of giving combined

He also served on the President’s Cabinet and enjoyed teaching leadership to Cedarville’s students in the School of Business Administration, speaking in chapel and mentoring students across campus.

Dr. Melson served as the Vice President for Advancement and External relations at Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y., from 2012-2016. Accomplishments at Houghton College include:

  • Providing leadership to the institution's $70 million campaign
  • Leading the college to experience the highest giving in college history
  • Raising more than $34.1 million in four years, more than the previous seven years of giving combined
  • Leading his team to raise more than $1.1 million in one day, with 1,737 donors giving during a One Day Giving Challenge, garnering national recognition
  • Serving as President and CEO of the Willard J. Houghton Foundation

Dr. Melson has served in senior leadership positions in business, healthcare, higher education and ministry, including serving on the pastoral staff with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., and at the Resurgence and Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash. He served previously as Director of Admissions and Student Recruitment with Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Matthew, Hannah, Tammy, Rick, Marisa and Jon MelsonHe earned his doctoral degree in leadership studies from Dallas Baptist University. Dr. Melson holds a master’s degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a bachelor of arts degree from Murray State University. He also has completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in educational management and advancement leadership.

Dr. Melson is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Tammy, of 33 years. They have three children. Son and daughter-in-law, Jon and Marisa, live and work in Los Angeles, Calif. Daughter Hannah is a staff nurse at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City. Son Matthew is in high school and loves all things sports and science.

Dr. and Mrs. Melson enjoy opening their home, mentoring students, and attending athletics, theater and other events on campus. They enjoy spending time with their family, traveling, working out, reading, and outdoor recreation. They are passionate about equipping the next generation of servant leaders to impact the world for Christ and are called to serve in a Christ-centered, caring academic community.

Inauguration Recap

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