Reverend Samuel Rodriguez was named to the Wheaton College Board of Trustees on Oct. 18. Rodriguez was selected by a unanimous vote to replace Gerry Bennett, who retired this past year. According to President Ryken, Rodriguez is not an alumnus of Wheaton but has a close personal friendship with the President and other trustees and has spoken many times in chapel as well as to the board.
The board of trustees is the group of 20 overseers of the college’s https://thewheatonrecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/IMG_0048.webpistrative functions. Each board member serves a 10-year term and the board meets collectively in the winter, fall and spring. According to President Ryken, as owners of the college, specific duties may include budgeting approvals, hiring new Presidents, determining policies and making final decisions on faculty positions and status.
Rodriguez is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). He also serves on the boards of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, Empowered21, PCCNA and Christianity Today. Rodriguez holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lehigh University, as well as honorary doctorates from the Baptist University of the Americas and Northwestern University. He was ordained in the Assemblies of God at age 23 and is now the Senior Pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, Calif. where he lives with his family.
Rodriguez was welcomed to campus earlier this fall to host a session on the Hispanic evangelical church and its connection to higher education. He was also featured as a key faculty member in the Wheaton College newsletter highlighting developments towards Christ-centered diversity on campus.
Board Chairman Davis Geiser made a statement in the Wheaton Newsletter addressing Rodriguez’s appointment, saying “We are delighted that Rev. Rodriguez has joined the Board of Trustees. He is playing a key leadership role in the Hispanic evangelical church in the United States as well as globally, and will enhance our understanding of how we might help build the church and benefit society worldwide.” According to President Ryken, it is too early yet to determine Rodriguez’s impact on campus but he “has a strong affinity for the College and its mission… He fully endorses Wheaton’s theological commitments and wants to promote Christian unity in the context of ethnic diversity. ”
Rodriguez is known for his influence within the Latino evangelical community and was nominated as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2013 and is the overall leader for a network of over 40,000 Hispanic churches through the NHCLC. Rodriguez is often working in educational, political and cultural settings, frequently meeting with key political figures regarding issues of social justice and Latino values and issues. Rodriguez was even one of the religious leaders to pray at the Presidential Inauguration, representing the NHCLC.
According to CNN, Rodriguez was the first Latino Evangelical to say an Inaugural prayer. Although Rodriguez is strongly opposed to the recent DACA decision according to the NHCLC, he stated that he understands the reasoning and process behind this decision and hopes that Congress will restore safety to DREAMers.