Matz promoted to become 18th president of Hannibal-LaGrange University

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Robert Matz | Photo Courtesy of Hannibal-LaGrange University

HANNIBAL, Mo.  The Hannibal-LaGrange University Board of Trustees appointed Robert J. Matz as the 18thpresident of the university at its fall meeting on Friday, Oct. 14.

Matz has been the vice president of academic administration, dean of the faculty and a professor of theology and preaching since July 2021. He was named acting executive vice president in March 2022 when Rodney Harrison was named transitional president.

“Over the last 164 years, God has shown Himself to be incredibly faithful to Hannibal-LaGrange University,” Matz said in a press release. “Jessica and I are humbled to be entrusted with the opportunity to steward this great university. We are fully committed to seeing God transform lives and communities in the days ahead.”

“I am grateful for each member of the search team and the full Board of Trustees for their support of the search process,” HLGU Trustee Chairman Mark Anderson said. “We have earnestly sought the Lord and desired to follow His will above all else. 

“I am also grateful Dr. Matz has accepted our invitation to lead HLGU during this strategic season. He has a secure calling by God, and his passion for Christ and the university, his unique giftedness, godly character and inspiring vision will help lead the university in the years to come.”

Mark Anderson also thanked all Missouri Baptists and friends of HLGU for their prayers and support, and he thanks Harrison for his work as the transitional president for the past nine months.

“We have truly witnessed a miracle at HLGU and give God all the glory,” Anderson said.

Harrison took over as transitional president on March 8 after Anthony W. Allen resigned as president in January. A letter from Harrison, posted March 16 on the university’s website, said $2.2 million needed to be raised by June 30 to get the school to the next academic year without incurring additional debt. He wrote that the university had made “difficult but necessary decisions, including drastic cuts” to ensure that HLGU stayed open.

Harrison said the school was facing “imminent disaster” during a “solemn assembly” live-streamed event on March 10 that the school billed as a “time of prayer, fasting, petition and abstinence.”

By the end of March, the implementation of what Harrison called an “integrity plan,” coupled with increased giving from alumni, put Hannibal-LaGrange on what Harrison believes is a path to “ensure the long-term sustainability” of the school.

Matz is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2005. He earned a master’s degree in divinity with a concentration in systematic theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009 and a doctorate in theology and apologetics from Liberty University in 2015. 

He has several publications and forthcoming, as well as chapter contributions and articles for academic journals. Matz is a member of and regular presenter at the Evangelical Theological Society. He was appointed to and served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s special task force on evangelism in 2017-18.

Matz has pastored churches in Texas, Virginia and Missouri and led in the revitalization of Blue Hills Baptist Church in Independence, Mo., the oldest Baptist church in the Kansas City metro area. Before to coming to HLGU, Matz served at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for 10 years both in administration and as a faculty member. 

Matz and his wife, Jessica, have three children. They are members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Hannibal. Matz regularly travels to speak and preach in churches throughout the region and is available by contacting his office at 573-629-3252.

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