About the President
Learn about Dr. Alan Cureton's contributions to Northwestern, and life-long commitment to higher education.
About President Cureton
Since his arrival as Northwestern's eighth president in January 2002, Alan S. Cureton, Ph.D., has led the college to growth in academic excellence and fiscal health while holding firmly to Northwestern's Christ-centered, biblical foundation.
He is deeply committed to the students of Northwestern and embraces opportunities to interact with them on campus, in chapel, and even in his home as he and his wife, Gayle, frequently invite students to pizza suppers. He has an uncanny ability to remember names and encourages students whenever he can.
Dr. Cureton also serves as president of Northwestern Media, a ministry of University of Northwestern – St. Paul. The media ministry reaches more than a million listeners with the truth and love of Jesus Christ—on the air and worldwide over the Internet—through 21 radio stations that offer encouraging and uplifting music, biblical teaching, and dynamic listener engagement.
Growth and Expansion
Northwestern has seen a nearly 40-percent increase in total enrollment under Dr. Cureton's leadership, plus the addition of several undergraduate degrees and the establishment of Graduate Studies at Northwestern—now offering eight master's degree programs.
During Dr. Cureton's leadership there have been five major building projects: the Mel Johnson Media Center (2003); the Riley Hall renovation, adding Business Department offices, labs, and classrooms (2004); the 70,000-square foot Billy Graham Community Life Commons (2011); and the Beverly and John Lord Knight Performance Hall Renovation (2016). In the fall of 2014, the university completed a new athletic complex, Reynolds Field, which includes six tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, and a football/soccer/lacrosse field with a stadium, which houses locker rooms and concession space. In addition, the university acquired the Wilson Center (2011) and Akenson Hall (2014)—both of which are off-campus buildings.
The innovative renovation of Riley Hall, which included turning a gymnasium into two levels of classroom, lab, and office space, took place under Dr. Cureton's watch in 2004. The project also made the 1960s-era building handicap-accessible for the first time.
Hallmarks of Excellence
Dr. Cureton's tenure has included an increase in faculty scholarship. Notable faculty accomplishments include:
- Walter Schultz, Ph.D., (Philosophy): Selected as a Staley Distinguished Scholar, recognizing his work on Christian responses to market economics and poverty.
- Joanna Klein, Ph.D., (Biology): Collaborator in the Undergraduate Research Program in Microbial Genome Annotation, run through the Genome Institute of the U.S. Department of Energy.
- W. Edward Glenny, Th.D., Ph.D., (Biblical & Theological Studies): Awarded the college's first J. Edwin Hartill Endowed Professorship, designed to stimulate scholarship and enrich the learning experiences of students.
Since 2005, 14 students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships and four faculty have received Fulbright awards for research and lecturing overseas, including Sally Harris Ph.D. (English), 2008; Lisanne Winslow, Ph.D. (Biology), 2009; Wendy Richards Ph.D. (Education), 2016; and, Joanna Klein, Ph.D. (Biology), 2020. In addition, Northwestern alumna Hannah Flowers '16 received a 2020 Fulbright scholarship to pursue an M.A. at Maynooth University in Ireland, and alumna Moriah Maunu '20 was awarded a 2021 Fulbright scholarship to support the teaching of English at Universidad Camilo Jose Cela in Madrid.
Service and Influence
With his extensive experience in higher education, Dr. Cureton's service to the community and other institutions allows him to bring a broad perspective to his leadership. His involvement outside of Northwestern has included a variety of roles:
- Chair of the NCAA Division III Presidents Council
- Member-at-large of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals
- Trustee and board chair for the U.S. Board for Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya
- Council Member of Daystar University
- Trustee for Sterling College (Kansas)
- Member, Minnesota Prayer Breakfast Committee
- Chair of the President's Council of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference
- Board Member, Minnesota Campus Compact
- Board Member, International Network for Christian Higher Education
His expertise in various sectors of higher education makes him a sought-after keynote and conference speaker, and he has offered insight through keynotes for student affairs and advancement conferences for commissions of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). He has also been a featured speaker at engagements in South Korea, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Mongolia, and Northern Ireland.
Dr. Cureton serves on Higher Learning Commission evaluation teams and with his strengths in the areas of strategic planning, visionary leadership, fiscal health, revenue resources, and board development, he serves as a consultant for private colleges and universities.
Awards and Achievements
In 2007, Dr. Cureton received the Alumni Achievement Award from Iowa State University, recognizing his meritorious service and distinguished achievements in higher education.
On October 19, 2013, Dr. Cureton was awarded the 2013 Sterling College Alumni Award from his alma mater in Kansas. In his remarks while presenting the award to Dr. Cureton, Sterling College President Scott Rich commended Cureton, saying, "He has a lifelong commitment to personal enrichment and has worked to provide opportunities for others to attain higher education."
- Bachelor's degree in Bible and Christian education — Sterling College (Kansas)
- Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Education and Higher Education — Iowa State University
- Advanced Certificate in Peer Review — Higher Learning Commission
During his collegiate undergraduate career, Dr. Cureton played varsity football, earning all-conference recognition his senior year. He is especially proud of having started and played in every football game throughout his four-year collegiate career.
Dr. Cureton has been married to his college sweetheart, Gayle, since 1976. They have three children: Luke (Erin), Rachel (Ben), and Michael (Hope).
The delight in their lives currently is being grandparents. Dr. Cureton and Gayle have ten grandchildren.