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Jun 5, 2024 | News, News - Alumni

In a letter to the Northwest Nazarene University Board of Trustees, President Joel K. Pearsall announced plans to retire in the summer of 2025. In a June 4 video call with the Board of Trustees, Chair Mike Zahare expressed gratitude to President Pearsall and his wife, Nikki, for their many years of service to the University.

“President Pearsall’s tenure as NNU’s president will be remembered foremost by his love of God and consistent servant leadership. His wife Nikki’s quiet and steadfast presence has faithfully blessed the NNU campus community by her loving actions,” said Board Chair Zahare, “It has been a tremendous honor to serve alongside them. With overflowing gratitude, we pray God’s richest blessings on them and their family in this next phase of life.”

Joel K. Pearsall became NNU’s 13th President in June of 2015. He is a lifelong member of the Church of the Nazarene and has a family legacy of serving Nazarene higher education. His father, Dr. Kenneth Pearsall, also served as president of NNU (then NNC) between 1973-1983. President Joel Pearsall earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Business Administration from Northwest Nazarene College in 1980. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in 1983.

Prior to joining the campus community, President Pearsall had an active law practice in Oregon, and served on the staff at Salem First Church of the Nazarene. Immediately before joining the University, Pearsall sat on the Northwest Nazarene University Board of Regents (now Trustees) from 1992 until 1999.

In 1999, Pearsall joined the NNU leadership team as the Vice President for Financial Affairs and In-House Legal Counsel (general counsel). During his time in the Office of Financial Affairs, the NNU campus underwent significant physical growth, including the building of the Helstrom Business Center and the Johnson Sports Center, redesigning the sports complex including relocating the track complex and the soccer field, expanding the Kirkeide Apartment Complex and acquiring the building that currently houses the Office of Graduate Admissions.

After being named Vice President for University Advancement in August 2008, Pearsall oversaw the completion of the Thomas Family Health and Science Center. He helped to develop the University’s campus master plan and participated in the receipt of major gifts from the Leah Peterson estate and the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation that were applied to build the Leah Peterson Learning Commons, as well as the receipt of the Howard & Mary Conrad family gift. In his role as Vice President for University Advancement, Pearsall also served as the Executive Director of Northwest Nazarene University Foundation, Inc.

During the nine years of President Pearsall’s leadership, much was accomplished. The Conrad Student Commons was constructed, numerous Masters and Doctoral programs were launched, and NCAA Division II athletic programs were strengthened. In addition, the NNU endowment experienced significant growth, and the University’s finances have been appreciably strengthened. President Pearsall has continually emphasized long-term strategic planning and metrics-based decision-making in an atmosphere of shared governance, contributing to the ongoing fulfillment of NNU’s mission.

Pearsall’s impact extended beyond the University and into the local community, the educational community, and the Church of the Nazarene. Pearsall served for five years on the Valley Regional Transit Ways & Means Committee, and then served for six years on the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. For the past several years, he has served as a Peer Evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities. And, Pearsall has served on the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene since 2009 – presently he serves as the General Board President.

“Words cannot adequately describe President Pearsall’s tremendous impact on Northwest Nazarene University and the surrounding community over the last twenty-five years,” said Chair Zahare. “From serving on the Board to serving in two Vice President roles, and then for the last nine years as NNU’s 13th president, President Pearsall has strengthened NNU’s reputation for academic excellence, guiding and supporting the diligent and outstanding accomplishments of NNU faculty, staff, and students.”

When asked about the succession process, Chair Mike Zahare noted that, “the NNU Board of Trustees has approved the hiring of the executive search firm, FaithSearch Partners, an executive search firm working with the complete spectrum of the faith community in the United States. During the coming year, the NNU Board of Trustees, in partnership with FaithSearch Partners, and with input from NNU constituencies, will develop a detailed leadership profile to inform the entire search process. This work will begin next month during the Board’s summer retreat.”

In reflecting on his time at NNU and discussing his transition, President Pearsall noted: “From the time I moved to Nampa 50 years ago as a high school student, I have been shaped by Northwest Nazarene University. I have benefitted from the positive impact of NNU faculty and staff members – and I am incredibly grateful. Over these past 25 years, God has richly blessed our campus community. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve with a tremendous Board of Trustees and an outstanding faculty and staff; I look forward to serving with them during my final year.

In thinking about the year ahead, President Pearsall stated, “My focus remains on helping our faculty and staff educate and mentor this era of NNU students so that they can continue to become God’s creative and redemptive agents in the world. I believe that NNU’s future is incredibly bright!”

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