Back when the student newspaper was called “New Wine” and Vanguard had not yet reached its university status, a professor was hired to teach in the Religion Department. For over thirty years, his dedication to God has kept him teaching at the university as it has grown into what it is today.
Roger Heuser, the longest teaching professor, has seen the university change drastically in his 36 years of teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes within the Religion Department.
According to Heuser, the biggest aspect that has changed on campus since he started teaching was when the administration implemented computers. He remembers his first computer and printer being set up in his office. Computers made a significant impact on him and his fellow professors, considering he wrote his dissertation on a typewriter.
The university’s physical property has changed over the years. According to Heuser, one way he has seen it take place is in the 10 changes of offices he has had.
He witnessed the acquisition of Smith Hall, as the building was previously not owned by Vanguard and was originally was the headquarters for the SoCal Network of the Assemblies of God. According to Heuser, Vanguard only owned the land at this time. Hueser has witnessed the chapel and dormitories being built during the decades, as well as the remodeling of the Scott Academic Center. Overall, the campus has expanded both greatly in physical size and in staff.
When he first started teaching, the staff was heavily white male populated. He has seen how increasing diversity on campus is a strength. He has seen the positive changes that have affected the culture of the campus by increasing diversity.
In the beginning, what excited him about working at the university was being able to teach at Christian liberal arts college.
“I just got so excited about a Christian liberal arts education where there is a pursuit of truth and knowledge in a variety of disciplines all under God’s good grace. I thought, ‘What better place to train leaders for a vocation than a liberal arts college?’ My passion is really the interplay of theology, spirituality, social science in the forecast of leadership,” Heuser said.
After completing Seminary school and received his Ph.D. at New York University, he pastored for 12 years in Chicago. In 1983, he was hired to teach in the first graduate program at Vanguard, which was a Master of Arts in Religion with a concentration in biblical studies or church leadership.
Heuser later became dean of the graduate program during the time the college received university status in 1999. According to Heuser, there were only four graduate programs at the time.
Back in the 1980s, there were about 30 professors and they would all meet for weekly faculty meetings, according to Heuser. Now meetings are held monthly. He recalls how these meetings allowed for all the professors to see each other and build friendships.
Hueser has noticed that fashion choices have changed over time with the workplace being more casual in how professors dress. To this day, he has seen the faculty work hard at having personal relationships with students throughout his years of teaching. According to Heuser, he believes that it is part of the DNA of the school.
According to Hueser, the 36 years at Vanguard has given him friendships that have impacted his life.
“Vanguard has been my vocational family for most of my adult life. It continues to be a place where academic preparation and calling are both expressed and enriched in a learning community that is making a difference in the world. My life continues to be transformed because of life-long friendships with students and colleagues here at Vanguard, and I’m forever grateful to God for living out this opportunity,” Heuser said.