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About the President

Learn about Dr. Alan Cureton's contributions to Northwestern, and life-long commitment to higher education.

President Cureton and his wife, Gayle

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 seven master's degree programs and five graduate certificate programs.

During Dr. Cureton's leadership there have been five major building projects and two major building acquisitions: 

  • The Mel Johnson Media Center (2003); 
  • The Riley Hall renovation, which included turning a gymnasium into two levels of Business department offices, labs, and classrooms, and making the 1960s-era building handicap-accessible for the first time (2004); 
  • The 70,000-square foot Billy Graham Community Life Commons (2011);
  • A new athletic complex, Reynolds Field, which includes six tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, and a football/soccer/lacrosse field and stadium, which houses locker rooms and concession space (2014); 
  • Wilson Center acquisition, home of the School of Nursing (2015);
  • Akenson Hall acquisition, residence hall (2016);
  • The Beverly and John Lord Knight Performance Hall Renovation (2016);
  • LIFE FM 96.5, new 22,000-square-foot station (2018); and
  • LIFE FM 97.9, new 15,000-square-foot station (2021).

Also during his tenure, the media ministry grew from nine stations to twenty-one stations, the university created new engineering classrooms and labs in Rosedale Center North (2019), and space a new golf training facility was built in the Ericksen Center (2021).

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, 18 students and faculty have been awarded Fulbright scholarships and awards for study, research, and lecturing overseas. Faculty who have received Fulbright awards include:

Recent student/alumni Fulbright scholarship recipients include Hannah Flowers '16, who received a 2020 Fulbright scholarship to pursue an M.A. at Maynooth University in Ireland, and alumna Moriah Maunu '20, who was awarded a 2021 Fulbright scholarship to support the teaching of English at Universidad Camilo Jose Cela in Spain.

    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:

    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

    Personal Life

    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 eleven grandchildren.

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