It would be difficult to find a person in Madison County more highly regarded than Anderson University President James Edwards, who recently announced he will step down from his post by the end of the 2014-15 academic year.
A man of God and the head of a university affiliated with the Church of God, Edwards has never been heavy-handed in his approach to religion. He has always expressed the tolerance and open-mindedness characteristic of leaders who cultivate common ground.
Nor is Edwards an office-bound academic administrator who stays hunched over a desk, poring over reports that reduce human flesh to statistical data. He is a community activist who frequently attends local events, involves himself in non-profit boards and seeks to make Anderson and the surrounding area a better place.
Edwards, AU’s president since 1990, is the longest-serving current university president in the state of Indiana, a testament to his steady hand, resiliency and clear vision of the future. Under his guidance, the university has grown, adding such facilities as the Kardatzke Wellness Center, the Flagship collaboration with Purdue University and the York Performance Hall.
Those who have had personal contact with Edwards know him as an articulate, gracious and genuine man with a receptive demeanor and keen sense of humor. Those who know him well have seen the depth of his passionate commitment to Anderson University and Madison County.
He has been so effective, in part, because he believes so deeply in AU’s mission to educate and engage students to serve both God and the community.
While Edwards, 70, has reached retirement age and will be stepping down from his post at AU, he is uncomfortable using the word retirement. It’s a foreign concept to him. He and wife Deanna, a community servant-leader as well, have three children and six grandchildren. They’re simply ready to move on to another chapter of their lives.