Briercrest president emeritus honoured for lifetime of leadership

Posted: March 28, 2011

By Julie Cole


Photo by Merrill Dyck.

aul Magnus is a leader who has devoted his lifetime to blazing trails for quality Christian higher education.

The Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) honoured Magnus for his lifetime of outstanding leadership by presenting him with the Biblical Higher Education Award at the organization’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla.

James P. Eckman, the board chair for the ABHE, praised Magnus for “the extensive testimony and widespread affirmation of his outstanding leadership in advancing and assuring quality biblical higher education.”

Briercrest College and Seminary President Dwayne Uglem was delighted to see his predecessor receive this award.

“It was a delight to see Paul honoured in this way by the leadership of the Bible college movement. Paul has indeed invested his life in the development and health of biblical higher education.”

The Christian educator is grateful for this honour.

“I would say what (the award) did for me was to feel a deep sense of reward for the investment.”

This investment has been lifelong. Magnus graduated from Briercrest Bible College in 1966 and has served his alma mater for over four decades in various positions ranging from classroom teacher to president. His passion for quality Christian education was present throughout each assignment.

“I came (to work at Briercrest) as faculty,” Magnus remembered. “Within six months I was moved to administration. Very soon I became academic dean and was always the chief academic officer for the next 25 years. In all of those years I worked with the accreditation process.”

Magnus was present at the meeting in 1974 when Briercrest received its accreditation with the ABHE (then the American Association of Bible Colleges — AABC). He knows firsthand how important it was for Briercrest.

“ABHE was our key to getting university affiliation,” Magnus asserted. “They always opened doors for us.”

Magnus is a veteran to the accreditation process for Bible colleges. He has chaired or participated on a dozen ABHE peer review teams since 1987, earning the reputation as one of ABHE’s most experienced evaluators and capable team chairs.

“There’s not a Bible school in Canada that is accredited that I wasn’t the chair at one of their visits,” Magnus stated.

He also served as the chair of ABHE’s Standing Committee on Canadian Bible College Education until 1999 when it was dissolved to become a part of Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC), a fellowship of organizations which brings together Bible colleges, Christian universities and seminaries. Magnus chaired the team that established CHEC.

“When I became involved with CHEC it was the first time that Christian universities and Bible colleges had sat face to face,” Magnus exclaimed. “CHEC connects leaders for fellowship and relationship. We also tried to handle issues that were uniquely Canadian, so it made sense to have one umbrella. To make CHEC work was the toughest part. These were diverse groups in Canada.”

Magnus has always been up for the challenge.

“It was understood that when there was a challenge (at Briercrest) I would be moved to that area to try to solve problems,” Magnus said. “I’m one of those people who needs change and challenge and the door always opened (for a new opportunity) at just the right time so (my job) didn’t become boring. Briercrest has always been a great place for me. It always gave me a platform and opportunity.”

It doesn’t seem like this educator is going to be hurting for work anytime soon. In addition to his current role leading Briercrest’s MA in Leadership and Management, Magnus helps churches, missions, denominations and schools sort through leadership, governance, and personnel matters.

Dwayne Uglem praises Magnus’ ability to build up and establish young leaders.

“In many ways, Paul started Briercrest’s MA in Leadership and Management to raise up a new generation of leaders for our Christian colleges. Today, his students can be found leading in almost all of Canada’s Christian colleges.”