Covenant College has inaugurated the first president in its 57-year history who's also a graduate of the school.
J. Derek Halvorson will serve as Covenant's sixth president. He graduated from the college in 1993 and holds a Ph.D. in history from Loyola University Chicago.
"It's a tremendous privilege and honor to be called to serve as Covenant College's sixth president," he said during his inaugural address Friday.
Halvorson previously served as president of Providence Christian College in Pasadena, Calif.
He also brings experience in fundraising, constituent relations, teaching and finances, said Jen Allen, Covenant's chief communications officer.
Delegates from 30 institutions attended the ceremony, which included Halvorson's inaugural address, "A Path with Purpose."
Martin Moore, chairman of Covenant's board of trustees, said a long, international search for a president revealed Halvorson as the best candidate. "We had a number of attributes in mind and, when we went through the process, he hit every category we were looking for," he said.
As an alumnus, Halvorson "understands what is distinctive about Covenant," Moore said.
"It affirms the entire mission of Covenant, to have one of its own come back and become the president," he said. "It's a confirmation of everything we're trying to do."
Halvorson said he thinks being a Covenant graduate gives him a unique perspective.
"I'm certainly someone who believes in and is committed to Covenant College and its mission, in large part because of my undergraduate experience here," he said. "It shaped who I am as a person, a husband and father."