Dr. Eric Anthony Joseph Named Next President of Multnomah University
On January 31, 2022, Eric Anthony Joseph, Ph.D., (Ed.D.), was formally announced as the next president of Multnomah University, effective March 1, 2022. At this time, Rev. Dr. Craig Williford will retire from his nearly eight years of service. After four months of thoughtful consideration, the Presidential Search Committee selected Dr. Joseph from a pool of approximately 37 candidates. Presidential Search Committee Chairman, Nathan Nymeyer, shared, “We believe you will see the Lord has provided us with a presidential candidate whose strength emanates from his faith and grounding in Jesus Christ and who is uniquely suited to lead Multnomah for such a time as this.”
Dr. Joseph has over three decades of experience in higher education and Christian ministry and has served as a voice of wisdom to university leaders and U.S. Presidents alike. His work as a consultant spans political affiliations, Christian denominations, and university landscapes. He is the founder CEO of Eric Anthony Joseph (EAJ) Ministries and Consulting Enterprise, LLC. Dr. Joseph’s faith-based and community engagement initiatives have made a lasting impact across the nation. His contributions have earned Dr. Joseph wide recognition as an outstanding educator, consultant, and Christian leader.
On January 28, 2022, faculty and staff members at Multnomah had the opportunity to meet Dr. Joseph and learn more about his vision for the university. Dr. Joseph impressed the Multnomah community with his love for Christ and the university’s vision. Vice President of Student Life Joe Slavens enthused, “I am excited by his energy and his passion. I am excited about his love for the Lord and the research he has done on Multnomah”. Chief Academic Officer, Alin Vrancila, shared a similar sentiment, stating, “I am personally very excited about the energy, the vision, and the connection EJ can bring to Multnomah University”.
By the end of the day, the Board of Trustees made the unanimous decision to name Dr. Joseph the next president of Multnomah University. When asked to elaborate on his decision, Board Chair Ben Ochs responded, “He is exactly what we need for the next chapter of Multnomah to build on the tremendous foundation laid by Dr. Williford. His eight years here put us in a position and ability to take another step, one, unlike anything Multnomah has seen in the past. I believe the university will benefit for the Lord’s work and for everyone we serve”.
After the eventful day, we had the opportunity to capture Dr. Joseph’s initial reaction to the decision. In a quiet but heartfelt voice, Eric reflected:
“I am excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come to Portland, Oregon, and start a new chapter and a new season that the Lord has provided for my wife and me here at this faith-based institution… We look forward to serving the community as well as this great institution and its legacy. We are excited.”
Throughout his conversations with the faculty and staff, Dr. Joseph spoke of the hope he saw at Multnomah. When asked what the greatest opportunity he saw at Multnomah was, Dr. Joseph responded with conviction, “Potential. The potential in everything we do, every facet from the faculty, staff, and the students, to the alumni and Board. It is the potential here that the great Lord has provided us.”
Dr. Joseph will be the first African American president of Multnomah University since its humble beginnings in 1936. This historically significant milestone, along with Dr. Joseph’s experience in leading diversity initiatives grounded in the truth of God’s word, promises pivotal growth for Multnomah.
Dr. Joseph describes his theology as ‘non-denominational, evangelical, and baptized in a Baptist church.’ He believes scripture is the living, breathing, and inspired word of God, and that we are made in God’s image. Dr. Joseph served as director and chaplain of the Coleman Heritage Center (Chapel) at Langston University, a Historical Black College and University. He has acted as a Christian leader within his community, as a church elder, and as a professional minister and consultant to universities, businesses, and political figures.
Dr. Joseph completed his education at Biola University. His degrees include a BA in Communications with an emphasis in radio, television, and film, M.Div. in Bible Exposition, MACEd in Christian Education, EdD in Intercultural Studies, and (exchanged for) a Ph.D. in Intercultural Education. During Dr. Joseph’s stint as an educator at multiple universities, he held several leadership roles. These positions included Assistant Professor, Associate Dean and Director of The Coleman Heritage Center at Langston University, as well as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Chief Diversity Officer, Director of the Massey Center for Ministry and Leadership, and he held the rank of a Full Professor at Mid-America Christian University (MACU). He is still on the Board of Trustees at MACU to this day. He also provided leadership as a PRN Consultant for Arizona State University in Educational Outreach and Student Services. Perry Publishing and Broadcasting named Dr. Joseph Educator of the Year for the State of Oklahoma. He also appeared in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers as one of the most prominent teachers in America.
Later in life, Dr. Joseph used his wisdom and experience to help higher education institutions through his consulting company. The focus of EAJ Ministries and Consulting Enterprise, LLC is to aid colleges and universities in building programs and internal support systems for under-served and unrepresented populations within their institutions. Dr. Joseph has also taught diversity and leadership courses in England, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and nearly every U.S. government branch (including the POTUS). The U.S. House of Representatives has honored Dr. Joseph for his lifetime achievements and contributions.
As a student-athlete at Biola, he was a two-time national champion and the 1985 National Christian Colleges Athletic Association (NCCAA) Male Athlete of the Year in track and field. In high school, he was invited to participate in the Junior Olympics. While training, he met his wife, Jill, a fellow track star and the national champion in the hurdles. Jill is a speech-language pathologist, KODAK All-American, philanthropist, realtor, educator, and as Dr. Joseph shares, a Kansas beauty queen. She and Dr. Joseph are active members of their community, professional organizations, and season ticket holders to the Oklahoma City Thunder. When asked, Dr. Joseph and Jill excitedly agreed they would become Trail Blazers fans as well!
Dr. Joseph sees the opportunity to bring the eternal truth of God’s word to Portland and the region to fulfill the greater mission of Multnomah University. His experience in community outreach in major cities like his hometown of Los Angeles has equipped Dr. Joseph with the tools he will need to lead and inspire. In summary, Dr. Joseph’s devout faith—rooted in scripture—and his experience in community development will undoubtedly lead Multnomah in an age of renewal and transformation.
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