Baker names new minister for Baldwin City campus
The Rev. Kevin Hopkins has been named minister to the university at Baker University, Brian Posler, executive vice president for academic affairs, announced Thursday.
Hopkins, the senior pastor at Leavenworth First United Methodist Church since 2009, will succeed the Rev. Ira DeSpain, who announced last year his plans to retire after the 2013-2014 academic year. DeSpain, a 1970 Baker graduate, has served as his alma mater’s minister since 1992. Hopkins will officially assume his duties at Baker on July 1.
Hopkins has extensive experience in higher education, serving from 2004 to 2009 as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, which is on Southwestern College’s campus, and also from 1998 to 2004 as dean of students/campus pastor at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina. Hopkins held faith-based leadership positions at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. from 1991 to 1997.
“I have been affiliated with several other small private colleges in Kansas, and Baker has always been the premier campus to which others look up,” Hopkins said. “There is tremendous respect for the institution.”
Posler said Rev. Hopkins emerged from a strong field of candidates after a national search.
“I greatly look forward to watching Rev. Hopkins connect with our students,” Posler said. “This university has a great history of outstanding ministry, and I am confident Rev. Hopkins will continue that tradition.”
Hopkins said he felt a calling to return to campus ministry.
“The campus environment provides learners with the freedom to ask questions and expand their faith,” Hopkins said. “It is the optimal place for future leaders of our society and church to become passionate servant leaders.”
Hopkins, originally from Hutchinson, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 1988 and a master of divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
Among Hopkins’ many responsibilities is leading weekly student worship from the famed Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel.
Baker was founded by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1858 as the first university in Kansas, and was named for the Kansas-Nebraska bishop of the MEC at that time, Osmon C. Baker.