We are so proud of the caliber of our Vanguard Faculty!
Learn more about Dr. James Woodrow, professor in the Department of Business and Management.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I had the privilege of growing up in a beautiful region of Pennsylvania known for its Amish, Mennonite, and Quaker communities. Living in and among a faith community that valued intentionality and spiritual depth provided me with the foundation for a lifestyle that is simple and God-centered. After graduating from high school, I attended David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University), and later earned my master’s degrees at Peabody College and the University of Southern California. I eventually earned a doctorate at Vanderbilt University.
My career has been very diverse. In addition to higher education, God has called me into a variety of professional, management, and consulting roles. In each aspect of my career, I can clearly see God’s provisional hand.
After graduating from college, among several opportunities I prayerfully decided to spend the summer in the mission field. My experience was unique in that a handful of friends and I travelled with a missionary who was passionately committed to smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain. At the time, the governments of the USSR were opposed to the radical message of Jesus Christ, and many believers suffered long imprisonments due to their beliefs. I still remember the feelings and emotions of anxiousness and excitement as we crossed Communist borders as tourists while travelling in a beat-up Winnebago. We had Bibles printed in the Russian language hidden in special compartments. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me.
On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the culture shock was nothing short of dramatic. We met with underground Christians in Soviet-style apartments, where the family patriarch turned up the radio volume to muffle our voices while we quietly sang and prayed together, all while anxiously hoping the neighbors wouldn’t report us to the KGB. We also learned how Russian Christians wrapped their Bibles in newspapers to appear that they were returning from the market in order to avoid being harassed as they walked home from church. Adjusting to the literal interpretation of the holy kiss, on the lips, by both brother and sister in Christ, was another challenge, as was being served soup at the family table, usually borscht, and being told that “the louder we slurped, the greater the compliment.”
How did you decide on being a professor?
I had never planned on becoming a fulltime professor. I enjoyed teaching, but saw an adjunct role as a valuable way to connect with students, while pursuing another career. My career path is another example of how important it is to be open to God’s plan for us.
I’ve been blessed with countless individuals who have influenced me personally and professionally over the course of my life. Being a lifelong learning is incredibly important to me. I have enjoyed looking for lessons that everyone, in all stations of life, can teach me, and have become convinced that we’re never too old to learn from others.
What brought you to Vanguard University?
Higher education took me overseas, as I lived and worked in London, England. Upon returning to the States in 2002, I returned to my consulting practice and also began inquiring with Christian colleges in the area about adjunct teaching opportunities. From that inquiry and subsequent conversations, I was invited to join VU in a tenure-track position, and a decade later, I continue to feel genuinely blessed that God has called me to Vanguard.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I especially enjoy working in small communities, such as Vanguard, and with Vanguard there is the added bonus and blessing of our rich Christian heritage and mission. Vanguard creates a sense of belonging where we can each support and encourage one another, while striving to make a difference in our students’ lives. The people at Vanguard are here because we care about the Lord, and about each other.
You are known as an avid traveler. What do you enjoy most about traveling?
When I think about my passion for travel, the words adventure, exploration, new, and different always come to mind. My lifelong desire to explore new countries and cultures has always driven my choice of places to visit. In the good and the challenging aspects of traveling, I am continually challenged and grown in ways I couldn’t imagine. I want to see and experience as much as I can across this magnificent, God-created planet that we call home.
How did you get started in traveling?
I have always been interesting in foreign languages and cultures. In high school, I studied German for a year, then changed my language studies to Spanish, which gave me the opportunity to visit Spain and the Balearic Islands with my teacher and classmates. It was during this experience that the travel bug bit me, and since then, travel has been my passion.
Out of the 100 + countries you have visited, what are your top 5?
We world is truly an amazing and breathtaking place. Each country has been fascinating to visit, and consequently impossible to rank, so I’d like to list my favorite places around the world.
- Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
- Okavango Delta, Botswana
- Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
- Fjords and Arctic Circle, Norway
- Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
- Cappadocia, Turkey
- Alps and Matterhorn, Switzerland
- Himalayas, Nepal
- Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei, Namibia
- Amalfi Coast, Italy
- Red Center and Uluru, Australia
- Pantanal, Brazil
- Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Palmyra and Crac des Chevaliers, Syria
- Great Wall, China
- Sphinx and Pyramids, Egypt
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- Petra, Jordan
- Roman Coliseum, Italy
- Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Turkey
- Taj Mahal, India
- Parthenon, Greece
- Eiffel Tower, France
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
- Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
- Chichen Itza, Mexico
Is there one piece of advice you received, that you now share with your students?
Dream, but don’t let those dreams define you – God may very well have different plans for you,
so be open to surprises and enjoy the journey!