Robert A. Cushman Jr., Ph.D., has been selected as the president of Pacific Union College (PUC) in Angwin, California. Cushman will be the 23rd president in the institution’s 135-year history. He comes to PUC from Walla Walla University in Washington state, where he currently serves as vice president for academic administration.
Pacific Union College’s Board of Trustees, advised by a search committee that included trustees, alumni, faculty, and staff, approved the appointment of Cushman at the May 11, 2017 board meeting.
In announcing the choice, board chair and search committee member Bradford Newton remarked on the thoughtful and deliberative nature of the selection process. “As our work began, we solicited input from PUC’s faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, students, and constituents to get their vision for PUC and understand the qualities that members of the college community thought would be most essential in our next leader,” he said, adding, “At the end of the day, one candidate stood out clearly from the others.”
Cushman will officially assume office on July 1. He and his wife, Judy, a school psychologist, will relocate from Walla Walla, Washington, to Angwin in the summer.
“In this moment, Judy and I feel deeply the call for me to serve as the next president of Pacific Union College,” shared Cushman. “During our recent visit to the PUC campus, we were impressed by the strong sense of PUC mission and history and by the commitment and sacrifice of faculty and staff who have served here for much of their lives. We are humbled and honored to be selected to serve and lead PUC forward. We’re looking forward to working together with the campus to make PUC the obvious choice for prospective students and their parents who are seeking the highest quality education in the context of Adventist mission and values.”
PUC's new president has more than 26 years of experience as a researcher, author, professor, academic dean, senior vice president, and chief academic officer. He began his academic career in 1994, when he joined the department of natural sciences at Loma Linda University in southern California. He has since served in positions of assistant professor of geology (Loma Linda University), chair of the department of earth and biological sciences (Loma Linda University), vice principal and science teacher (El Dorado Adventist School), and professor of paleobiology and department chair of the department of biological sciences (Walla Walla University). He has produced dozens of publications covering a wide breadth of geological topics.
“Dr. Cushman is a passionate leader highly respected among his peers, and a man of great integrity and commitment to Adventist education,” said Newton. “Dr. Cushman’s experience as a senior administrator, faculty member, and researcher gives him a unique appreciation of the distinctive blend of the liberal arts and pre-professional programs that define the PUC experience.”
Cushman attended Walla Walla University and Loma Linda University, and earned his Ph.D. in geology from the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colorado. He has been an active board member of the Palynological Society, and served as its president in 2006. He will succeed Eric Anderson, who has served as PUC’s president since January 2017.
President Anderson introduced Cushman to the campus community as “unpretentious, thoughtful, and a good listener” and proclaimed him a perfect fit for the college. “Bob Cushman is the ideal leader for this moment. An unpretentious team builder, he will lead this college with absolute integrity. He has exactly the right kind of background, temperament, and vision necessary to lead PUC. I am confident he will enhance PUC’s reputation for academic excellence, as well as advance the college’s mission to prepare students for lives of service and personal integrity.”
“Bob Cushman appreciates PUC’s unique heritage, culture, and traditions,” said Kellie Lind, ’82, PUC’s chief philanthropy officer. “On behalf of our more than 27,000 alumni around the world, I look forward to working with him and our alumni to move PUC forward.”
Cushman is originally from Orlando, Florida, and Judy grew up in Sacramento and Covelo, Calif. The couple, who met as students at Walla Walla, have two adult sons, Ryan and Matthew, and four grandchildren.
Newton said the Presidential Search Committee’s success was due to the thoughtful participation of the entire PUC community, as well as the hard work and cooperation among its members.
“I want to thank the members of search committee for their significant investment of time and effort over the last few months,” said Newton. “The committee’s focus from the start was to identify an individual with the balance of intellect, integrity, and experience necessary to lead the college through what will surely be an exciting and challenging time in higher education. With the selection of Dr. Cushman from a field of excellent candidates, I know that we have achieved that important goal.”