Candles glowed and music serenaded as more than 250 invited guests gathered in celebration and support of Barry H. Corey on Thursday night, the eve of his inauguration as Biola University’s eighth president.
Inside an elegantly decorated tent on Metzger Green, dignitaries shared a dinner and watched on as several of Corey’s family members and longtime friends poked fun at, expressed admiration for and offered advice to the new president.
“Keep the ‘B’ not only in Biola but in your heart,” said Walter Kaiser, a former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, referring to the days when Biola was an acronym for “Bible Institute of Los Angeles.”
He encouraged Corey to place a higher value on the Word of God than anything else. “Where else can we go to find perspective and meaning and significance for our lives, for our times, for our learning and for our institutions?” said Kaiser, whom Corey considers his “scriptural mentor.”
Others shared humorous moments born out of years of friendship: Corey chasing down a station wagon in Ohio as it drove off with his wallet; Corey driving a convertible with the top down in the rain; Corey triumphing year after year in an annual Thanksgiving “Turkey Trot,” using his running skills to win a pie.
But mixed in were emotional stories about Corey’s loyalty, leadership and commitment to the Lord.
“To know Barry Corey is to know joy,” said Steve Macchia, a longtime friend. “He exudes it. He embodies it.”
The dinner – the first of several inauguration festivities scheduled throughout the weekend – also provided time for the first of the weekend’s many presentations.
Board of Trustees member Stan Jantz gave the new president an official centennial ring, symbolic of the authority that God has entrusted to him.
“May you be humble as a leader, may your influence by significant, and may you continue to seek the authority of Almighty God in your life,” Jantz said.