Bob Jones University President Resigns After Months Of Contention With Board Chair

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Bob Jones University President Steve Pettit has announced he’s resigning following months of contention between him and BJU Board Chairman John Lewis over the direction of the fundamentalist school.

In a statement released to the press on Thursday, Pettit said, “It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve as the president of Bob Jones University. My memories of the wonderful people, the incredible student body, and the perpetual blessings of God will linger with me throughout the rest of my life.”

But Pettit added he believes resigning is “the Lord’s direction and the best step to take at this time.”

“I encourage the Board, the administration, and the entire BJU community to continue our commitment to offering a world-class education with a biblical worldview.”

Pettit said his resignation will take effect May 5, at the end of the school’s spring semester.

Tensions between Pettit and Chairman Lewis and certain other trustees erupted last October — a month before the board was scheduled to vote on renewing Pettit’s contract. Pettit, who is historically the only president of BJU not related to the school’s founder, has been serving in his current role since 2014.

According to some alumni, the opposition to Pettit had nothing to do with doctrine but with “preferences of Christian practice.” It concerned things like the style of worship music played at student chapel services, “immodest clothing” worn by female athletes, musical selections from the fine arts program and even Pettit’s participation in a bluegrass music band.

Despite this, the board voted last November to renew Pettit’s contract after more than 1,000 alumni turned out to show support for the embattled president.

Since then, however, the relationship between Pettit and Lewis has deteriorated badly.

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