Close Page

Spittal re-elected as university president

By Alex Schmitt
Dec 14, 2016

By Alex Schmitt and Joshua Brisco

After being re-elected as university president, Dr. David J. Spittal said that MidAmerica is in the black for the first time in five years and that he would focus on increases in faculty compensation in his second term.

Spittal was unanimously re-elected to a second five-year term by MNU’s board of trustees during its annual meeting Nov. 15 and 16. On Nov. 29, Spittal told The Trailblazer that his biggest goals for his new term would include increasing pay for faculty and reinstating a faculty retirement plan beginning next year.

“My highest priority right now is to give compensation increases for faculty and staff for next year and to keep tuition as low as possible,” Spittal said.

The chair of the board of trustees, Dr. Larry D. McIntire, DO, also said that a plan to increase faculty compensation is important for the university, but its feasibility hinges on the school’s financial capability.

“That is a definite priority, and it is dependent upon having the finances to do that,” McIntire said. “But there is no question, it is what we need to do, and want to do, for our faculty.”

Spittal said that this fiscal year was the first year in his tenure as MNU’s president that the school turned a profit. Spittal also estimated that this is only the second time in the last 10 years that MNU has finished in the black.

“This is strictly revenue-to-expense with a small profit,” Spittal said, confirming that the financial success is independent of the $9.5 million gift left to the university last December. “It’s a balancing act because we recognize that it is a combination of things.”

University president Dr. David J. Spittal has been re-elected for a second five-year term after a unanimous decision the board of trustees. MNU finished in the black this year for the first time in Spittal's five-year tenure. Photo by Kacie Vandeventer.University president Dr. David J. Spittal has been re-elected for a second five-year term after a unanimous decision the board of trustees. MNU finished in the black this year for the first time in Spittal's five-year tenure. Photo by Kacie Vandeventer.

The board of trustees made the choice to retain Spittal after an assessment of his last term. McIntire said this process included opinions shared by members of faculty and students who served as representatives on various committees, but McIntire said he could not estimate the number of students or faculty who were consulted.

“Our committees each have faculty members on them, representing the faculty, and so those are sessions that lead into and towards the board meetings themselves,” McIntire said.

McIntire said that a great portion of his personal belief in Spittal was based on MNU’s successes in the last five years, including the advancements made with the Mabee Learning Commons, the Bright Futures project and the New Horizons project.

The Nazarene Youth International liaison to the MNU board of trustees, Rev. Fred Toomey, said his vote was based on Spittal’s personal qualities.

“For me, it was his knowledge, his expertise, his passion, being able to turn the college around,” Toomey said. “He’s brought us through some pretty tough times in the last five years - and his track record - we talked to a lot of the staff members and professors and got a lot of input and we felt that God placed the right man at the right place to get what we need to get in the next five years.”

Rev. Joel Atwell, a member of the board of trustees and the enrollment and development committee, said that he had several reasons for choosing Spittal for re-election, one of them being that MNU is still too unstable for a change in leadership.

“Change of leadership at this particular juncture would just not be wise or healthy for the school, with the huge financial campaign that has been rolled out and with other key decisions and key issues at stake,” Atwell said. “It definitely would have done more harm than good to try and process any kind of leadership change at this particular juncture.”

One polarizing storyline from Spittal’s first five-year term came with the administration’s handling of controversy stemming from a chapel message delivered by then-chaplain Dr. Randy Beckum. Beckum resigned from the chaplaincy in Dec. 2015.

Regarding whether the events surrounding the controversy between Spittal and Beckum affected the decision and conversation of the board, Atwell said that it did play a part.

“It was a part of the conversation, and there were those who thought [Spittal] probably made the right decision, and there were some who thought he probably didn’t make the right decision necessarily on that,” Atwell said. “But that was one of many things that played, and it was certainly a part of the conversation.”

McIntire, when asked about board conversation regarding the Beckum situation, said, “That didn’t come up, that hasn’t been up for quite a long while.”

Toomey said that conversations surrounding last year’s controversy did not occur in any of the general sessions of the board, and Spittal also said that topic was never discussed with him regarding his re-election.

“It wasn’t brought up in a discussion with me personally at that point,” Spittal said. “I’m sure they’ve had discussions more broadly than that, but I’m sure that’s all part of the consideration.”

Though Spittal’s second term is billed as a five-year commitment, Dr. Jon North, vice president of university advancement, said that it is his understanding that Spittal and MNU are not monetarily committed to each other for the full five-year span if either side should leave the term early - a system that North believes is the norm for most Nazarene and private Christian schools.

“Technically, he doesn’t have a contract,” North said. “They’ve asked him to stay the first five years now they’ve asked him to stay another five years. … [The five-year term] represents the intent of the institution and the intent of Dr. Spittal. It is the board’s full intent, unanimously, passionately; they ask him to stay and work another five years.”

Spittal said that he is willing and open to serving for the full term.

“I made myself available for five years,” Spittal said. “That’s what they’ve asked of me and I said, ‘I will make myself available.’ I always say, ‘It’s up to the Lord and the board.”

Alex Schmitt

- More by this author

Alex Schmitt is a History at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and he is also the news editor for The Trailblazer.

comments powered by Disqus
These bees are collecting nectar from sunflowers on campus. MNU’s bees fly out about 15 feet high and spread out as far as five miles in order to retrieve nectar for the two hives located on campus. Photo by Dana Palmer.


As of fall 2017, faculty from the science department at MNU have initiated a science club for the purpose of bringing science out of the classroom and into the MNU community.

Protesting to make America great

As opinions fly and the President calls protesters in the NFL “sons of bitches” who should be fired, I can’t help but wonder if people are more upset about a lack of respect for the flag than they are about a lack of respect towards black Americans. Now seems to be a time when people have to pick what they’re most upset about.

How to catch zzz’s without catching C’s

As members of the human race, we tend to agree that there are some “firsts” that will be remembered for the rest of our life. Whether it be our first kiss, our first night away from home or our first day at a “real” job.

Theatre Club Vice President, Brandon Baker is pictured leading the Theatre Club in a game of mafia. Students in the club have learned things such as acting, FSX makeup and improv. Photo by Heather Tinker.

Big things in Bell for fine arts Department

MNU’s department of Fine and Performing Arts has added a worship arts major, pep band and a theater club. The university heritage choir has also been accepted to perform for the Kansas Music Educators Association.

President David Spittal addresses staff and faculty during an all-campus meeting on April 26 in the Bell Cultural Events Center. During the meeting, Spittal gave updates on the New Horizons initiative and announced the closing of MNU’s Liberty, Missouri campus. Photo by Chace Owen.

MNU to close Liberty campus, address unexpected expenses

In an all-campus meeting with faculty and staff on April 26, university president Dr. David Spittal announced that MNU's Liberty, Missouri, campus would be closing in December 2018.

On April 7, Cook Center was transformed for President’s Honors. This event is largely powered by current MNU students, as they served as wait staff, gave personal testimonies to guests and performed in the band and choir. Photo courtesy of MNU public relations.

Student involvement powers President’s Honors

Students and supporters come together as MNU holds largest fundraiser in university history

Millennials' technological fluency has spawned accusations of social disconnection, but that's nothing new for innovation. Photo by Blake Bradford.

Thanks for the trophies, folks

Millennials are being unfairly targeted by older generations.

The Action Pact improv team poses after its final show of the Fall 2017 semester. Action Pact is a collection of MNU students who perform for the campus, temporarily shedding more weighty (and less-fun) requirements for practice and performances. Photo by Alexandria Bonar.

Smell the roses and drop some chainsaws

Your college experience will be over before you know it; it's okay if it gets messy.

oie 20033R7jxkNKK

Policy over privacy: MNU’s norms in the dorms

MidAmerica promotes itself as a pristine Christian university with no room for inappropriate behavior. There's no partying, no drugs and, of course, no sex. At least, that is the apparent goal.

Videos / See More