Breaking down the three final provost candidates

Julia Herman, Assistant News Editor

a headshot of a woman
Courtesy of George Fox Marketing Communications

a headshot of a man
Courtesy of George Fox Marketing Communications

a headshot of a woman
Courtesy of Ashland Theological Seminary

Laura Hartley

Roger Nam

Mignon Jacobs

Laura Hartley currently serves at George Fox University as associate provost for student academic success and dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.Being a dean has allowed Hartley to be a part of the academic leadership team at George Fox, where she and the seven other deans work together to plan academic programs and initiatives.

Hartley has years of experience in the education field, serving as associate dean at Templeton Honors College of Eastern University prior to George Fox. At Eastern, Hartley was also an associate professor of language and culture. She earned her bachelor’s degree of interdisciplinary studies at Wheaton College, and both her masters and Ph.D. at Michigan State University for Linguistics.

According to bios given to The Falcon by President Dan Martin, Roger Nam currently serves as the dean of Portland Seminary and professor of biblical studies at George Fox University.

While serving as a dean, Nam built an ethnically diverse faculty and helped with the growth of enrollment in the seminary program. He has also received institutional grants that add up to over 2.5 million dollars.

Nam has a broad resume, serving as a pastor in Seoul, Korea and as a financial analyst in California. He studied economics at UCLA, received his master of theology and divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and General Assembly Presbyterian Theological Seminary respectively. Nam holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Culture from UCLA.

Mignon Jacobs served as dean, chief academic officer and professor of Old Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary from 2017-2019.Prior to Ashland, Jacobs worked for twenty years at Fuller Theological Seminary where she served as associate provost for accreditation and educational effectiveness from 2013-2017. She also served the roles of professor of Hebrew Bible, coordinator of assessment, and accreditation liaison.

Jacobs has also taught abroad in Brisbane Australia and in St. Petersburg, Russia.

She studied psychology and biblical and theological studies at Bethel University for her undergraduate degree. She earned her masters of divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and holds a doctorate in religion from Claremont Graduate University.


President Dan Martin and members of the search advisory committee discuss the candidates

The three finalists, Laura Hartley, Roger Nam and Mignon Jacobs, visited campus the last two weeks, meeting with students, staff and faculty. The three candidates create a pool with their different strengths and backgrounds.

“The three candidates are very different from one another and that was intentional. The committee liked the idea of people that brought different gifts and different backgrounds,” Doug Strong, one of the chairs of the search advisory committee, said.

With a background in both economics and theology, Nam brings a more entrepreneurial skill set that is outside of the academic realm, which the advisory committee and President Dan Martin felt would be beneficial to the position.

“Dr. Nam brings innovation. He brings creative new ways of delivering education models,” Strong said.

Of the three, Hartley has the most experience in the academic field, following what would be seen as a typical path: starting off a professor and moving up to different administrative positions. She is the only one of three to have undergraduate administration experience.

“Hartley brings an amazing competence. She is arguably the most experienced. She has many years of academic administration,” Strong said.

The final of the three candidates, Jacobs, stood out to ASSP President Nathan Samayo because of her willingness to be inclusive with all people and recognize all backgrounds.

“Jacobs brings great awareness of how to transform and create programming and policies that will uplift every member of campus, pushing for equitable changes and support for students, staff and faculty with different ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic identities,” Samayo said.

Jacobs focused on ways to make SPU more inclusive to all during her interviews, which the search advisory committee took notice of her ways to be inclusive.

“Dr. Jacobs’s strength is — which she calls — ‘inclusive excellence,’ which means academic excellence from inclusive manner,” Strong said.

All three candidates are said to know the importance of making students feel welcomed and heard.

“None of them would have reached this point if they weren’t willing to talk about these issues,” Strong said, referring to the discussion surrounding the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and the lack of diversity among faculty.

Martin emphasized the importance of moving forward.

“We’re going to continue to work. Dr. Mayo is our VP of diversity, inclusion and equity,” Martin said. “We do see an opportunity for Dr. Mayo to be a strong partner with the new Provost and consider perhaps some new ways, some various strategies in which we can better reflect the kingdom of God and the place that we want to be on our campus.”

The candidates are by far the most diverse group to be considered for this position.

“The candidates that came are a very different mix of what people have seen in the past,” Annette Lee, co-chair of the search advisory committee, said.“There was a white female as one of the candidates, a woman of color … and a man from South Korea.”

Strong insisted that no matter who Martin ends up choosing, he feels that they will fit into SPU.

“All of them are very good. We feel very confident about all of them, that’s why we chose them.”