New York City's King's College announced Thursday its new president-elect, Gregory A. Thornbury, to succeed Dinesh D'Souza, who resigned last Fall after a scandal involving a relationship with a woman despite still being legally married.
Thornbury comes from Union University, where he served as dean of the School of Theology & Missions, professor of Philosophy, and vice president for Spiritual Life. He will assume his presidential duties on August 1.
Interim President Andy Mills introduced Thornbury as a natural fit for the college, mentioning his work with New York City promient Christian leaders Eric Metaxas and Timothy Keller. Quoting Acts 15:28, Mills said, "It seemed right to us and the Holy Spirit that" Thornbury becomes president.
In his first statement as the sixth president of King's College, Thornbury praised the college and laid out a vision for the future. "We have the right college at the right time with the right programs," he insisted.
Listing the largest fields of concentration at King's, Thornbury hailed them as the studies "that liberate people" and reinforce a Christian worldview. According to its mission statement, the college "seeks to transform society" through its "commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview."
"New York City is the financial and cultural capital of the universe," he argued, quoting sociologist James Davison Hunter as saying in order to influence the world, "you must lead from the center of culture and not from the periphery."
He mentioned two attempts to found a Christian College in New York City, one by the son-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, who ended up founding the University of Chicago instead, and one by Billy Graham and Karl Henry. Finally, in 1998 and 1999, "it was a genuine miracle of God," and King's College came into existence.
"The King's College in New York City is an idea that is too good to fail," Thornbury said. From this grandiose statement he drew a dire warning, "This is historic Christianity's last and best shot to lead from the center of the culture," he said. "No one else besides us will get a chance to do this again."
"My vision for the King's College," he explained, "is to be a galvanizing institution of solidarity for traditional Christianity."
"There's so much incredible Christian work and transformation going on in New York," Catherine Ratcliffe, a senior at the school and assistant to the Office of Career Development, told The Christian Post. She admitted that the city is "very hostile to Christianity," but said that King's College has made strides to preach the good news in the Big Apple.
"King's is one of the most solid institutions I've ever encountered" when it comes to "processing its mission statement."
When asked about the new president, she said "he seems like he'll be a really good fit for us."
Despite "very deep connections" with Union, Thornbury's is not a household name at King's. "Very few of us knew who he was," she said. "I don't know of any students who knew his name."
"While Thornbury is certainly less well-known than D'Souza, he understands the curriculum and faith-driven nature of King's in a way that will enable him to serve us perfectly as president," Ratcliffe added.
When asked if the school wanted to abandon the D'Souza style of an outspoken political conservative to double down on it's purely Christian mission, she said, "I don't think D'Souza or King's image were the primary factors in the hire."
Conservative author, apologist, and film producer Dinesh D'Souza joined the King's College as its president in 2010. In October 2012, however, he resigned from the post after rumors of marital infidelity. Also in October, D'Souza filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, from whom he had been separated for two years. World Magazine reported that he shared a hotel room with a young woman whom he introduced as his fiancée, Denise Odie Joseph II, while still legally married.
D'Souza denied the claims and accused the magazine of libel. He argued that it had a "vendetta" against him, "noting that the editor of World, Marvin Olasky, resigned as Provost of The King's College when D'Souza was appointed president."
Despite the controversy, Ratcliffe remembered D'Souza warmly. The former president "led King's in the public square and advanced our image and publicity in remarkable ways." She added that "his resignation was one of purely personal instead of administrative conflict."
D'Souza is now going into production for his second film, "America," a documentary that answer the question "What if America never existed?"
Another student, Brandon Santulli, student intern at Metaxas Media and Socrates in the City, expressed gratitude for D'Souza. "I believe in redemption and do not see his departure as disgraceful," he told CP. As for Thornbury, "his vision focuses on the long run success of our institution and bringing forth Christian values in the public and private sectors."
"I am very proud to be a student of The King's College and am looking forward to this upcoming year," Santulli said.