Michael Lindsay, BA '94

September 29, 2011
Young Alumnus Winner Michael Lindsay

Young Alumnus of the Year

Graduate age 40 or under who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year

Michael Lindsay, BA '94

  • On July 1, became 8th president of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.
  • Author of two dozen publications and scholarly articles as well as the Pulitzer-nominated book 
    Faith in the Halls of Power
  • Honored in a worldwide competition in 2006 as the most promising sociologist under 35
  • Former consultant for religion and culture to the George H. Gallup International Institute
  • Directed the Program for the Study of Leadership at Rice University and was a Rice Scholar at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
  • Baylor Phi Beta Kappa graduate, president of Phi Kappa Chi fraternity as a student
  • Graduate degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University

A leading expert on religion and public life, Dr. Michael Lindsay has accomplished much at the relatively young age of 39. Gordon College's eighth president, Lindsay says Baylor "deeply shaped" him as both a scholar and a leader, serving him well as he continued his studies at Princeton and Oxford before becoming a faculty member at Rice.

As an undergraduate student, Lindsay established a relationship with then Baylor President Dr. Herbert Reynolds; that friendship later helped Lindsay land a job. A former English and speech communications major, Lindsay lists Dr. Tom Hanks' Chaucer seminar as one of his toughest classes, remembering how hard he worked on one paper in particular. 

"Dr. Hanks was very gracious and encouraging and said that it had a lot of merit. He actually encouraged me to submit it for a conference and possible publication. That was probably the first time I began to see myself as having potential, not just as a student, but as a scholar. 

"At my first address to the faculty and staff of Gordon, I took a line from Canterbury Tales, 'And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche,' which is a description that Chaucer gives to the Oxford cleric, who is one of the pilgrims in the book. 

"I took that title specifically because of the influence that Tom Hanks had on my own life," Lindsay continues. "He taught using a modified Socratic method, and I actually use that same style when teaching my own classes, asking more questions than providing answers." 

Lindsay began serving as president of Gordon College on July 1. He describes it as "a traditional liberal arts college that is on the leading edge of helping the church address important issues at the intersection of faith and culture. 

"Gordon is in many ways the flagship evangelical institution in the global capital of higher education [the Boston area has 85 colleges and universities and 360,000 college students, more students per capita than any city in the world], and that, to me, is a very strategic opportunity. It is one I simply couldn't pass up." 
Lindsay is currently completing the PLATINUM Study, the largest interview-based research to date of senior organizational leaders, based on interviews with more than 500 leaders in the U.S. Results from this study will be published in a book that Lindsay is currently preparing.

Lindsay counts among his greatest accomplishments persuading his Baylor girlfriend, Rebecca Ward Lindsay, BA '94, to marry him. Also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Baylor, Rebecca is an author, teacher, and now an ambassador for Gordon College. They met in an upper-level Latin course, dated for three years at Baylor and have been married for 15 years. During Baylor Homecoming in 1994, Michael proposed to Rebecca from atop Pat Neff Hall. The Lindsays now have three daughters: Elizabeth (7) and twin girls Caroline and Emily (1). 

Much of the young president's story has yet to be written, but like Chaucer's Oxford cleric, he will continue to gladly learn and gladly teach a new generation of leaders how to navigate their own successful pilgrimages through life.

"I have learned that presidents can be important advocates, and I want to be that for Gordon students," Lindsay told a Gordon chapel crowd upon his introduction to the university. "I want to be an encourager and to serve you, for us to share love for the Gospel and love for each other."