BJU president Steve Pettit resigns


Nathaniel Hendry

Pettit’s announcement came as a shock to many students.

In an email to the student body Thursday night, Steve Pettit announced his resignation from his role as president of Bob Jones University, effective May 5, 2023. “I believe this was the Lord’s direction and the right decision,” Pettit said in a meeting with all BJU faculty, staff and students on Friday morning. 

“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve as the president of Bob Jones University,” Pettit said in the email Thursday evening. “My memories of you — the incredible student body — and the perpetual blessings of God during our time together will linger with me throughout the rest of my life.” 

In the Friday meeting, Pettit encouraged the students to finish the semester well and trust God’s providence. He also expressed his appreciation for the students. “I have been asked hundreds of times in my life, ‘What do you like most about being president of Bob Jones University?’ And my answer has always been the same; it’s you guys. It’s the students.” 

Pettit also encouraged the students to continue studying at BJU. “Most of you would say you came to get world-class education with a biblical worldview,” he said. “There is no better place that I know in the whole world where you can keep getting what you came here to get.” 

The resignation announcement came as a surprise to many students since Pettit’s contract was renewed only three months ago with widespread support from students, parents, faculty and alumni. 

Junior biblical studies major Bryan Cardenas closed the prayer meeting on Thursday night. (Nathaniel Hendry)

The news broke as a group of students was gathering for a time of prayer and worship in The Den on Thursday evening, shifting the emphasis of the meeting. Nathanael Klukow, a sophomore engineering major, had been helping plan the meeting for several weeks. “That’s just the Lord’s will that he would throw something frustrating to us and then let us — or push us — to worship. That’s just, that’s majestic,” Klukow said.  

The Thursday prayer and worship meeting lasted for three hours, finishing shortly before curfew. 

On Friday morning, over 1,000 students gathered for another time of prayer and worship in front of Rodeheaver Auditorium before the meeting with Pettit. The gathering, organized by the Student Leadership Council, included the hymns “He Will Hold Me Fast,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Still, My Soul, Be Still.” Several students also read Scripture passages emphasizing the providence of God and how believers can find peace by trusting in God.  

Senior ministry and leadership major Zach Edwards led the student invocation during the SLC event, praying, “Lord, help us to not have to know everything that’s surrounding our circumstances, but in these moments help us to just know you more.”

Men’s student body president led the students in a time of worship before the meeting with Pettit on Friday morning. (Nathaniel Hendry)