Lauren Dibble, Staff Writer
He will be moving to Texas to be with his family, but will continue to be a full-time professor for online courses in Christian Ministries. He will also be working with and assisting the new incoming vice president, Nathan Finn.
For a little over two years, Pannell served as interim president before Gene Fant was hired. He explained that the biggest difference in responsibilities as interim president compared to being vice president was the perspective and access to people.
“The breadth of the vision just gets bigger because you have the whole operation of a university… I spent most of my time with faculty as vice president, but as president I spent more time with the people outside [of campus],” Pannell said.
He spent time interacting with donors and leaders of the community, including the mayors of Greer and Greenville. Because of this, he noted that most of the responsibilities were similar, but his focus was more focused on the community surrounding NGU during that time of transition.
This was his fourth time serving as an interim president for a university and he has learned from each experience. An important aspect of the job to him was to recognize the history of the university and be sure to not disrespect that past, but at the same time help the university move forward.
He stated, “An interim president has to find ways to look ahead and decide how our mission continues to fulfill itself in the opportunities that are there, so we pray for opportunities and then we wait to see where God opens doors.”
In his seven years of working at NGU, Pannell has helped implement a number of programs, such as the criminal justice and contemporary worship arts programs. He also helped in furthering online education, dual enrollment and the interdisciplinary program.
Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at NGU, Gregory Bruce, described his reluctance to see Pannell step down from the position of vice president. “He opened our eyes to the need for technology and online classes and understood the value of an interdisciplinary format. He knew where we needed to go in terms of higher education.”
Bruce explained that Pannell did more than get NGU through his transition as interim president, in that he set the stage for the upcoming president while making sure the university did not lose its Christ-centered focus.
With the help of Pannell, NGU was able to start an adult degree completion program and a physician’s assistant program. He focused on the idea that the business of a university is teaching students, thus he believed that in order to fulfill that idea it’s crucial to have the right faculty and staff. “My job is to leverage my authority so that the people that work here can do what God has called them to do,” he said.
When he is off campus, Pannell explained that he will most miss the people at NGU: the students, faculty and staff. “The most important thing in life is the people God has given you the chance to engage with… When you’re a part of a community, it magnifies whatever strengths you have, but even more greatly, it minimizes your weaknesses,” he said.
Even though he will miss being on campus, Pannell is looking forward to staying connected to the school while being close to his family.