Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, Eleventh President of Oakwood University
My mother, who was a Louisiana Southerner, represented that fine generation of Depression-era, African-Americans who believed that education is the key to economic success,” said Leslie Pollard, the eleventh president of Oakwood University.
Pollard employed his mother’s Christian beliefs and practical wisdom to become a devoted husband, father, Christian leader, and stellar academic. He has two earned doctorates (Doctor of Ministry from Claremont University, and Doctor of Philosophy from Andrews University), and an M.B.A. in organizational management from La Sierra University. Pollard has also authored many articles and books, including Loving Leadership, a 30-day practical devotional whose thematic intention is the development of what he deems a “servant- leader.” Without question, Pollard is an illustration of the Historically Black College and University’s success story who has returned home to continue the tradition of intellectually engaging Christ-centered leadership.
He has an international vision for his beloved Oakwood. He wants Oakwood to be the best provider of faith-based liberal arts education in the country. He understands that this requires an institution wide commitment to local and global growth, rigorous commitment to [Oakwood’s] founding mission, with increasing outreach to diverse populations, and careful attention to financial sustainability. “As an HBCU, we have,” noted Pollard, "a solid sponsoring organization in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, By the grace of God, we intend to make Oakwood an international player in effective and efficient delivery of its educational products and offerings. The faculty and staff are employees [as well as] academic mentors, and spiritual guides of Oakwood University students." Pollard understands that he is following a rich legacy of leadership modeled by previous Oakwood presidents. He garnered important lessons from them.
Reflective of good leadership, Pollard is very clear about his goals for Oakwood University; his vision for Oakwood is tied to his leadership goals for the institution that are:
To revolutionize the spiritual life component of our faith-based Oakwood experience by measuring how our spiritual life activities impact the spiritual formation of our nurture and the shaping of our Oakwood students.
To expand the facilities required to service twentyfirst- century students and to maximize the historic strengths of Oakwood.
To enter the media market with OUSN (Oakwood University Satellite Network). We must reach more people with the Oakwood message and experience.
To expand our offering of graduate academic programs with an M.B.A, a master’s degree in education, a New and Old Testament master’s degree in religion, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in urban ministry and preaching.
To create an international consortium for faculty development, and exchange with sister institutions in Africa, Latin America, and South America.
To grow the scholarship endowment sufficiently so that Oakwood is no longer a tuition-driven institution.
He said, "These huge goals will require an executive team that is fit and ready for the next stage of the journey." If one desires a glimpse into the future success of Pollard’s leadership, his immediate family is a good place to find the answer. Both of his daughters, Kristin and Karin, are graduates of Oakwood. In addition to being a parent he has been a spiritual model for his children. His daughter Kristin said, “I can remember days when my dad would be up at 4:00 a.m. praying for people and working on sermons.” His wife of 33 years, Dr. Prudence Pollard, is also an Oakwood graduate.
Presently she serves as an assistant vice president and professor of management at Oakwood. She sees Oakwood as a "place of academic and spiritual transformation, therefore her husband will lead [Oakwood] as a steward of God’s institution." Pollard’s intention is to guide and nurture the intellectual and spiritual development of Oakwood students.
His commitment is personal and professional. "When he sees students who are in the transformation process toward becoming Oakwoodites,” says Prudence, “he sees himself; his care for them comes from the empathy of one who has walked their path toward mentored spirituality and academic excellence." Anchored in the dual commitment of the spiritual formation of young people, and rigorous academic preparation, Dr. Leslie N. Pollard is poised to grow Oakwood University into a model comprehensive institution where students "enter to learn and depart to serve."