Dr. Donald Sweeting is well aware he has big shoes to fill as the new president of Colorado Christian University.
Following the retirement and death of the university’s former president, Bill Armstrong, in 2016, CCU worked for months to find the right person for the job, finally selecting Sweeting in August. He was inaugurated at CCU on Feb. 16.
Sweeting, an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, has been a trustee at the 7,000-student university since 2014. He also serves on the board of the National Evangelical Association. He has written several articles for various magazines and co-authored several books. He and his wife, Christina, have three adult sons and a teenage daughter.
We called Sweeting the week after his inauguration to learn a little about him and his goals for the school.
Tell me a little about your background?
I was born in New Jersey, the third of four boys, to a father who was a pastor. We lived in New Jersey for 10 years and then moved to Chicago.
What was school like for you?
I wasn’t a really serious student until I committed my life to Christ, which instilled in me a hunger to learn and keep growing.
I went to school at Lawrence University, then Oxford University to get my master’s degree. I received my Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois.
What did you do after school?
I worked in Washington, D.C., for a while, focusing on politics, law and ministry, but I saw the power of the Gospel to change lives and decided instead I needed to go into some form of ministry.
I spent 12 years in Illinois, and served as the senior pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Greenwood Village from 1998 to 2010.
What led you to work in education?
The time came when I felt a growing compulsion to train the future and younger leaders. Every time you train a new pastor, you know you’re not just touching their lives, but all the lives they’ll influence as well.
Schools had been contacting me for a while, and I finally took on the role of president of the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, where I worked until taking over at CCU.
What are your goals for CCU?
Bill was an incredible leader and started a lot of objectives I want to keep going here at the school.
My philosophy for the school is “ad fonts” — a Latin expression which means back to the source. We need to get back to our Christian origins, because losing that center is the biggest issue facing higher education these days. Both academics and faith are of equal importance. That’s the opportunity of a Christian university.
I’m interested in raising a new generation of leaders in Christ and continuing to be a blessing to the state of Colorado.
Affordability is something I also want to work on, as well as helping the college deal with the digital revolution and demographic changes.
What do you like most about the work you do?
Students are the best part of this job, and it’s such a privilege to be shaping and working with these kids. It’s a thrill.
The job changes all the time, and so it’s important for me to get out and meet as many of Lakewood’s community leaders as possible. We want to be a big contributor to the community.
What do you want people to know about CCU?
We’re a convictional Christian school, and we’re going to be true to those roots — roots that go back 103 years. When we talk about who we are, it’s simple — we provide unparalleled academics and uncompromising faith.