by Frank Brazell
A presidential inauguration is not an everyday event in the life of a university. Good presidents, those whose character, adaptability, and health allow them to stick around, may serve a single institution for decades. As such, on the rare day when an institution gets to inaugurate a new leader, someone who is ultimately responsible for the accomplishment of the organization’s mission, all the stops are pulled: dignitaries are invited, fancy hors d’oeuvres are ordered, and academic regalia comes out for a good steaming. So much goes into making such a traditional and formal academic event stand out.
But that isn’t the point.
On June 6th, 2023, Manna University inaugurated its fifth president, Dr. Carlo Serrano, in an event that Board Treasurer Jonathan Fletcher aptly described as a “spiritual moment.” Such a distinction marks what makes biblical higher education, and Manna University in particular, different. In his opening remarks, which were far from the typical verbatim reading of a curriculum vitae, Fletcher went on to describe not what Dr. Serrano has done in his journey but who God made him to be during his journey.
“God creates people to be, and then He gives them roles to do.” - Jonathan Fletcher, Board Treasurer
Dr. Serrano, when he began his first remarks as the fifth President of Manna University, thoroughly demonstrated the truth in Fletcher’s remarks. While he could have spoken of his multiple books, or of his numerous publications in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, or even his career as a professor at multiple institutions, Dr. Serrano instead chose to spend the first moments of his tenure as president speaking about what matters to the University – our students.
He spoke of a student from Clarksville, Tennessee, a veteran who felt a call from God beyond Sunday attendance and the occasional small group meeting, a man who, after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Counseling is off to Graduate school to pursue his calling at the next level. He spoke of a student from Southern Pines, North Carolina, who has been serving on staff at an excellent local church for years, but who now, thanks to her Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree from Manna University, has started consulting in the world of church planting and church growth. And he spoke of a student, originally from Burundi, who is living in Rwanda and studying in our Worship Ministry program, who is already changing the world by leading outreaches and conducting worship services with a stellar team.
Doubtless, had time allowed, Dr. Serrano could have told dozens of stories about how God’s people are advancing His Kingdom around the world, and how Manna University is Educating, Equipping, and Empowering them to do so. For Dr. Serrano, that’s the point. We can have five-hundred students, we can have a larger endowment, we can have more “facts” and academic knowledge to puff us up, but at the end of the day, none of that matters more than our students who are out changing the world. This is why Manna University exists to partner with the local church. Since the Church was God’s “Plan A” for advancing His Kingdom, it only makes sense that institutions of biblical higher education should come alongside the Church to Educate, Equip, and Empower moral and ethical leaders. To this end, Manna U now has over 300 students enrolled each year, hailing from five continents, 14 countries, and 32 U.S. states.
And we’re just getting started.
Welcome Dr. Carlo Serrano, President of Manna University.