The college's 30-member board of trustees unanimously elected Caner on Monday (Dec. 2), filling the position being vacated by Mike Simoneaux, who came to the college as interim president in March 2011 and was elected as president the following July.
Simoneaux, in a Brewton-Parker news release, said Caner "brings a wealth of experience to the presidency with more than three decades in Christian higher education leadership, Biblical teaching, preaching and apologetics."
"This appointment will excite Georgia Baptists and Southern Baptists who will sit up and take notice that Brewton-Parker College and its trustees are serious about its stand on the infallibility of the Scriptures and its decision to honor Jesus Christ in every area," Simoneaux said. "I have no doubt that the college will grow and strengthen exponentially under his leadership."
The college acknowledged a 2010 controversy in which bloggers accused Caner of embellishing his background as a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. In quoting an unnamed trustee, the press release stated: "We didn't consider Dr. Caner in spite of the attacks; we elected him because of them. He has endured relentless and pagan attacks like a warrior. We need a warrior as our next president."
Trustee Lynda Yawn, who chaired the search committee, said the decision was accompanied with prayer.
"Having prayerfully considered the job description and the current needs of the college, the search committee implemented a search process considering internal and external applicants," Yawn said in the news release.
Trustee chairman Bucky Kennedy, in the news release, voiced his belief that "our best and brightest days are in front of us. visionary leadership and passion for students are remarkable and refreshing and his character and love for God are admirable and inspirational."
Caner, born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1966, is the oldest son of a devout Turkish Muslim leader. The family immigrated to the United States in 1969. Through the persistence of a high school friend in Ohio, Caner converted to Christianity and became a minister shortly thereafter.
Caner comes to the position from Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas, where he had served as provost and academic dean since 2011. Previously, he was dean and a professor at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va. He resigned as dean during the 2010 controversy, although an investigation by Liberty found no evidence of Caner deliberately lying as accused.
His brother Emir Caner is president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. Together the brothers have written numerous books on world religions including "Unveiling Islam," which won the Gold Medallion Award in Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in 2003.
Brewton-Parker, founded in 1904, is one of three colleges affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention. The college offers four baccalaureate degrees. Fall 2012 enrollment totaled 629, according to the current school catalog.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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