The newest president of Louisiana’s only Baptist college visited the oldest Baptist church in East Baton Rouge Parish to introduce himself and encourage parents to send their students there.
The Rev. Rick Brewer, ninth president of Louisiana College, spoke to the congregation of Woodlawn Baptist Church, established in 1850, and received a warm reception on May 17. An educator and ordained Baptist minister, Brewer is an accomplished musician and played several hymns on the piano. He also recruited at least one local student to attend the Pineville school.
“The first big challenge students face at a secular college or university is that they are taught — ‘the truth is whatever you think it is’ — as opposed to ‘there is a God, the founder of truth, the giver of truth, who is truth, and it is absolute,” Brewer, 59, told the congregation, eliciting many “amens.”
“Those great state universities — and we have one just down the road — they are wonderful schools. They provide and give back to our community in a great way. But I call them ‘multi-versities’ because there is no place in their equation for education with Christ,” Brewer said. “Louisiana College is a ‘uni-versity’ because we take it all in and say it’s all in Christ.”
Brewer previously served 28 years in several administrative positions at Charleston Southern University, Charleston, South Carolina, most recently as vice president of student affairs and athletics. He was unanimously approved by Louisiana College’s board of trustees on March 5 and took office on April 7.
He earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policies with cognates in management and higher education administration from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA and bachelor’s degree in history from Charleston Southern University. He’s also completed post-graduate certifications at Harvard and Duke Universities.
“My vision for Louisiana College will be to establish and project a national distinction for excellence as a Christian college devoted to preparing students for lives of learning, leading and serving,” Brewer said in a March 5, news release announcing his hiring.
The Rev. Tommy French, chairman of L.C.’s board of trustees and pastor emeritus of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, said Brewer’s qualifications met their every requirement.
“God prepared him for this task,” French said. “He’ll cast a vision for the future of the college, establish good relationships between the college and the churches and the pastors and he knows how to fundraise to meet the capital needs.
He is a very active and energetic man.”
Brewer has already spoken at many north and central Louisiana Baptist churches and he addressed Louisiana College’s 158th commencement May 16. His message to 124 undergraduate and 24 masters degrees recipients was “And Then Some.”
“Successful people in life, whether in ministry or leading an organization, or medicine, or teaching, or whatever God calls you to, the people who rise to the top and who are making a difference are the ‘and then some’ thinkers,’” Brewer said.
Louisiana College is a private, Baptist co-educational college of liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1906, according to its web site. Between 1,200 to 1,400 students attend 70-plus programs of study.
The 81-acre campus includes 25 buildings. It receives no direct federal support and is funded via tuition, private donors and the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s 1,600 member churches.
“It’s been very refreshing to see him have such a passion and desire to connect with the community and with the church,” said the Rev. Lewis Richerson, Woodlawn Baptist’s senior pastor who attended Louisiana College from 1999-2003. “I’ve heard from our students who are there that there’s an atmosphere of excitement on the campus.”
Chaz Morgan, 18, a home-schooled student who grew up at Woodlawn Baptist, earned a sizeable academic scholarship to attend Louisiana College in the fall.
“I want to go there because it is a great Christian school that will prepare me to go out into the world after college,” Morgan said.
He plans to major in pre-law, then attend law school. “I want to be a judge,” he said.
A lifetime of faith in God
Born in New Orleans while his father was attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Brewer’s spiritual journey began at an early age, he said in a brief interview prior to the Sunday service.
“I was raised in a Baptist pastor’s home where my parents read us the Bible every day and we always went to church,” Brewer said.
They taught him to read at the age of four, he said, and he was already reading the Bible when at a young age he became a born-again believer.
“It was at the end of a child evangelism fellowship rally at our church, Shady Grove Baptist Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where my dad was the associate pastor, I came home and told my parents, I was almost six years old, and I told my parents I wanted Jesus to come into my life,” Brewer said. “I understood that he died for my sins and they prayed with me and I accepted Christ. The next Sunday I was baptized at the church.”
Then, at the age of 14, he felt a calling into full time Christian service, he said, while attending a missions conference.
“It was clear to me that night in the service then I went home and told my parents — and they knew what I was thinking about,” he said. “That calling led to a life of ministry — on a journey from the local church to Christian higher education for the last 28-plus years.”
Brewer and his wife, Cathy, have two sons, Jason, a professional musician who resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Krista and daughter Adalyn Kay; and Jonathan, a banker with Bank South in Lake Oconee, Georgia, where he resides with his wife, Catherine, and son Knox Jameson.