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Cornerstone University Mourns Loss of Fifth President, Chancellor

News July 16, 2015

With deep sadness, Cornerstone University announces the death of its fifth president and chancellor, Dr. W. Wilbert Welch, 97, this morning, July 16, 2015.

Dr. Welch led the university from 148 enrolled students meeting in a church basement on Wealthy Street in 1959 to 130 acres in a strategic area of Grand Rapids on East Beltline Avenue five years later. He grew the small Bible Institute into an accredited Christian liberal arts college that now educates close to 3,000 in its undergraduate program, two seminaries, online classes and adult program.

The beloved former president served at the helm of the university until 1983 and later as interim president in 1991 until Dr. Rex Rogers was hired.

In 2006, Dr. and Mrs. Welch were honored with the naming of the centrally located campus clock tower.

He continued to be a presence on campus, stopping to pray for faculty and staff members in their offices, attending chapel and eating in the Dining Commons on a regular basis until 2012.

Born in 1918 in Greenville, Mich., Dr. Welch received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Bob Jones University in Kentucky where he sat under the leadership of Dr. Bob Jones. He served multiple congregations in Georgia and Michigan before accepting the presidency of Cornerstone University.

“His leadership through the years has been outstanding,” said Dr. Joe Stowell, current president of Cornerstone. “We wouldn’t be here today without his great work.”

Dr. Welch was married to his wife, Meryl, for 71 years before she passed away last year.

A community memorial service is being planned.

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