The Cornerstone University Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically affirmed the selection of Dr. Joseph M. Stowell as Cornerstone’s 11th president at their annual board meeting on Jan. 26, 2008.
Stowell said, “It is a great honor to be invited to join the students, faculty and staff at Cornerstone University in the enterprise of advancing the work of Christ through higher education. I have always admired the work and reputation of Cornerstone and pledge my best to both continue and advance its outstanding contribution to West Michigan, our nation and our world.”
The inauguration celebrations began Sept. 11, 2008, with a community-wide worship service in the Hansen Athletic Center. On Sept. 12, hundreds of students attended the “Student and Stowell Breakfast” on campus to welcome Stowell and his wife, Martie Stowell, and pray over the couple before the inauguration ceremony.
The inauguration ceremony was held at 10:30 a.m. with more than 45 delegates from various institutions across the country attending to welcome Stowell. Greetings to the president included:
Dr. W. Wilbert Welch, chancellor and former president of the university; Edward Blews, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan; Dr. Nicholas Kroeze, president of Kuyper College; Mart DeHaan, president of RBC Ministries; and Anne Graham Lotz, founder of AnGeL Ministries and board member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Lotz, a long-time friend of the Stowells, read a letter on behalf of her father, Billy Graham. In his letter, he bestowed blessings on the university and Stowell.
The “West Michigan Welcomes Joe and Martie Stowell” reception and gala dinner celebration were held at DeVos Place that evening and attended by 2,200 people. Lotz and Dr. Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College and Stowell’s friend of more than 40 years, spoke before Stowell shared his vision for the university.
Throughout the evening, video messages from well-known Christian evangelists were shown, including Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Max Lucado, a Christian author and pastor; Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of Joni and Friends; and Rick Warren, author and senior pastor of Saddleback Church.
“Martie and I are thrilled to be in West Michigan and at Cornerstone, and to be blessed by such a warm response,” Stowell said at the gala dinner. “I felt very encouraged and lifted up. I am so proud to be a part of Cornerstone."