Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski, Crandall University’s fourth President, celebrated his 100th birthday on January 9, 2023 in Washington, DC. “Dr. Sam” was born in 1923 in Serbia but emigrated at age 4 to Canada, arriving with his mother and sister at Halifax’s Pier 21 in August 1927 to join his father who had arrived earlier to prepare the way for his family. The Mikolaskis eventually settled in Toronto.
As a young man, Sam excelled in academics and, after earning three degrees at the University of Western Ontario, completed a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford in England. He was broad in his academic interests and has a special fondness for philosophy, politics, theology, church history, and biblical studies. His list of scholarly publications is lengthy and his involvement as a pastor and local church leader was meaningful to many people over the decades.
Dr. Sam taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, served as Principal of the Baptist Leadership Training School in Calgary, and then taught at North American Baptist Seminary in South Dakota in the 1970s. From there, he and his late wife, Jessie, moved to Moncton to serve as Crandall’s President. During his time as President, Crandall University (then Atlantic Baptist College) received approval from the Government of New Brunswick to begin offering undergraduate degrees. The first two degrees were awarded in 1982 at a spring Convocation ceremony at Highfield Baptist Church. Following this milestone achievement, Dr. Sam and Jessie moved to Vancouver where he taught full-time at Carey Hall until his retirement from full-time academic life. In his retirement in California he taught part-time at Fuller Theological Seminary and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and continued his academic research and writing.
Dr. Sam, whose leadership and legacy was honoured by the University with an academic chair in Religious Studies being named for him, is one of only two former Crandall Presidents who are still alive (the other being Dr. Brian MacArthur). Reflecting on Dr. Sam’s contribution to Crandall, current President Dr. Bruce Fawcett commented, “Dr. Sam is a remarkable individual. We are so fortunate to have had a leader of his caliber in the 1980s who set the academic foundations in place which would allow the University to grow in the coming decades. He was an inspirational figure for the faculty, and his academic heft brought credibility and recognition to an institution then in its infancy.”