The president of Taylor University has resigned from his post one month after dozens of graduates and faculty members walked out of the school’s commencement ceremony, protesting Vice President Mike Pence’s invitation to give the commencement address.
President Paul Lowell Haines announced his decision on Monday, three years after taking over the reins of the school’s leadership. Dr. Paige Cunningham, the chair of Taylor’s Board of Trustees, lauded Haines for his contributions to the school and said that the resignation was neither solicited nor encouraged by the board.
Last month President Haines was at the receiving end of controversy from a myriad of university students, graduates and faculty over the invitation he extended to Vice President Pence to deliver the school’s commencement ceremony address.
More than 8,000 individuals signed a petition on Change.org urging Haines to rescind the invitation and not give Pence a platform to deliver his political views which “are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.”
However, the statement announcing Haines’ resignation, released by the university, does not mention the reason behind his departure.
“We leave with a strong sense of accomplishment, knowing that remarkable progress has been made over the last three years, but also a clear awareness of God’s new purpose and direction for our lives,” Haines said.
The board commended Haines for improving the university’s enrollment numbers and rankings. Recently, the school received two number one rankings and one number two ranking in the Midwest Region of the U.S. News & World Report survey of America’s Best Colleges.
Haines was also credited with advancing the university’s financial and fundraising goals, academic and athletic offerings, leadership diversification, facility improvements and renovations, marketing and communications programs, and Town of Upland initiatives.
“We are saddened by Dr. Haines’ decision, but we are deeply grateful to him and to his wife Sherry for their personal commitment to the vision and historical, evangelical, orthodox Christian mission and purposes of Taylor University and to the institution’s foundational positions and policies,” Cunningham said. “These policies, with the full support of the Board of Trustees, have been strengthened on his watch.”