World's Largest Association of Christian Schools Elects New Head

( [email protected] ) Feb 26, 2009 02:54 PM EST

The world's largest association of evangelical Christian schools named a new president this week.

Dr. Brian Simmons, vice president of university relations at Indiana Wesleyan University, was named the new head for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), which serves 5,500 member schools in 106 countries from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Simmons will succeed retiring president Ken Smitherman, who has led the association since 1996.

The association's executive board announced the decision on Monday after it conducted an extensive national search for the right person to fill the role.

"At the end of a thorough search and selection process, Dr. Simmons clearly emerged as God's choice to lead ACSI in its next era of resourcing the Christian schooling movement worldwide," stated board chair Beth Elder.

"We believe that Dr. Simmons is personally called and prepared to lead the association at this very exciting, yet challenging, time."

Simmons brings fundraising and teaching experience from both K-12 and post-secondary education to his new position.

His current responsibilities at Indiana Wesleyan University include maintaining church, alumni, and government relations and taking charge of all fundraising initiatives. He also serves as an adjunct professor for graduate courses at Indiana Wesleyan University and Columbia International University.

Simmons has also led Indianapolis-based Heritage Christian School as superintendent for 10 years. In that position, he helped grow student enrollment from 1,180 to 1,600 and the annual budget from $8 to $12 million.

Additionally, he has taught for 14 years at Elkhart Christian Academy, a K-12 school in Indiana, and was president of the Nehemiah Group LLC, a consulting firm for Christian schools.

"My passion is to use my gifts, training, and experience to bring glory to God as I further the cause of Christian education worldwide," said Simmons. "I will promise before God ... to lead the Christian school movement worldwide with a sense of calling, devotion, urgency, and passion."

During his leadership role at Heritage Christian School, Simmons was elected to represent the ACSI Mid-America Region on the ACSI Executive Board.

The ACSI offers accreditation services for primary and secondary schools and educational services for its member colleges and universities. The religious non-profit was founded in 1978 through a merger of three associations: the National Christian School Education Association, the Ohio Association of Christian Schools, and the Western Association of Christian Schools.

The organization has 18 regional offices, serving approximately 1.2 millions students through its member schools.

Members of the South-Central region – which includes schools in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas – recently met for the yearly regional conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The event drew 160 administrators and trustees, representing about 50 schools.