The following is a press release from Wayland Baptist University:

PLAINVIEW, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — Welcoming students for Wayland Baptist University’s 114th year, Dr. Bobby Hall, President, spoke Thursday of exalting Jesus during the university’s annual Convocation Chapel.

“I’m so thrilled to see you all — everyone in the Wayland Plainview family,” Hall said. “It makes my heart swell with enthusiasm and promise of a new academic year.”

“I am unashamedly in love with this place and our mission of Christian higher education,” Hall said as he introduced the chapel theme — Jesus: In His Own Words. This fall, weekly chapel sessions will focus on the seven “I am” statements recorded in the Gospel of John.

Hall quoted from the Book of Philippians, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

“He is not one among many gods, but the one and only. The real deal,” Hall said. “His name is above all other names. That’s why He called himself ‘I am’”

Recounting his journey from Baylor University recruit to president of WBU, Hall said, “Having grown up in Plainview and wanting to get out of town after high school, Wayland was the last place I wanted to go, so I left for Baylor University thinking I wanted to be a youth minister. Boy, was I wrong.”

At Baylor, Hall began to keep to himself as his excitement for college life dwindled, and upon his return to Plainview, he found himself a student at Wayland, “the place I didn’t want to be.”

“The most amazing things started happening,” he said. “I could still sit in the back of the classroom, but my professors would call me by name. I had to be involved.”

Professors “modeled for me and everyone the Christian life,” Hall said. “I was being called back to my faith. I began to read my Bible again and returned to church. Things got better. Wayland changed me, and I didn’t even know it was happening.”

Hall offered personal thoughts on each of the seven “I am” statements before saying, “He is our daily sustenance, our direction, our protector, our sacrificial savior, our victory over death, our access to Father God and eternal life, and our vitality and strength.”

“I can stand before you today to declare that Jesus is all you need or will ever need. He checks all the boxes,” Hall said before listing more than a dozen check-box moments in his life. “God is always there for you, just as He has always been for me.”

Challenging students to “take that step toward Him,” he concluded by saying, “So here I stand today as the president of a Baptist university. I thought I was going to be a youth minister. “Boy, was I right,” he said, noting he gets to share Jesus with students at Wayland rather than at a church.

The faculty processional was led by Trisha Giacomazzi, Chief Marshal. Dr. Daniel Brown, Vice President of Enrollment Management, welcomed those gathered in Harral Memorial Auditorium, and the invocation was given by Dr. David Bishop, Vice President of External Campuses. Pledges to the American and Christian flags were led by Mike Hammack, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and Dr. Cindy McClenagan, Vice President for Academic Affairs, respectively. Dr. Autumn Lass, Associate Professor of History and President of the Faculty Senate, read John 15:6 from the Bible Dr. J.H. Wayland, who founded the university, carried. Dr. Claude Lusk, Senior Vice President of Operations and Student Life gave the benediction.

Other officiants included Amy Miles, Assistant Professor of English, Alternate Marshal; Dr. Robert Moore, Professor of Chemistry, First Assistant Marshal; and Dr. Maria O’Connell, Professor of English, Second Assistant Marshal.

The mission of Wayland Baptist University is to educate students in an academically challenging, learning-focused and distinctly Christian environment for professional success and service to God and humankind.

(Press release from Wayland Baptist University)