As Boyce College’s enrollment increases, Dave DeKlavon’s family continues to grow. In the eyes of the world, DeKlavon is childless. However, the associate dean knows there is more to the story.
“Sometimes the hardships of life have their own benefits. My wife and I weren’t able to have any children, so we like to joke that the Boyce students are our adopted children,” DeKlavon said. This adoption has allowed the DeKlavons to trust the sovereignty of God and continue to pour their lives into the students of Boyce College.
“We knew that if we didn’t have involvement with younger people, there would be a lack in our life. We love taking what we have and being able to pass it on to someone else. We just viewed it as an opportunity that the Lord gave us,” said DeKlavon.
During their 17 years at Boyce, the DeKlavons have hosted hundreds of student groups at their home. He also memorizes the names of every student in his classes and prays for them weekly.
“I always hated having students in class who I didn’t know their name, because it is impossible to connect with a student if you don’t know their name,” he said.
DeKlavon has connected with hundreds of students at Boyce, but his journey here was a long process. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, DeKlavon’s mom developed arthritis and the doctors suggested moving to relieve the pain. After relocating to Florida, the DeKlavons began attending a church in the Miami area where he professed faith in Christ at age 9.
“When I was in the fourth grade, the Sunday School teacher asked me if I was saved. I knew if I said I wasn’t saved that he would want to talk with me after class, so I lied and said that I was. But all day long that question ate at my mind, ‘Are you saved, are you saved?’ So that night I prayed to accept Christ,” DeKlavon said.
After becoming a Christian, DeKlavon was called into full-time ministry while preaching a youth service during his senior year in high school. After graduating, he enrolled in a pastoral studies program at Miami Christian College.
DeKlavon went to college with the idea of being a pastor for life, but after graduation he taught at a local Christian school for two years before becoming an associate pastor. During his years between Miami Christian College and Southern Seminary, DeKlavon served as an associate pastor, senior pastor, youth pastor, and Christian education pastor.
While a Christian education pastor, he was asked to develop and teach an in-depth adult Bible study. That study lasted for more than two years, and through that experience DeKlavon learned he had a passion for teaching and began to consider higher education. He finally decided to go back to school after a conversation with his wife, Jan.
“I went home and talked to Jan and she said, ‘Dave, when you wake up and you’re ready for Social Security and retirement, are you going to regret not going to seminary?’ I didn’t even have to hesitate, I said, ‘Yes, if I don’t go, I will regret it.’ So she said, ‘Then we need to go.’” DeKlavon enrolled as a student at Southern in the fall of 1989.
From 1989-98 DeKlavon completed both an M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southern Seminary. While finishing his Ph.D., in the fall of 1997, DeKlavon became the associate dean of Boyce Bible School and hasn’t left since. In 1998, Boyce began to offer bachelor’s degrees and the name was changed to Boyce College.
Having been at Boyce since its inception, DeKlavon has played a vital leadership role as the undergraduate school has grown up to what it is today.
“When I started in the fall of 1997, we had a grand total of 75 students in the entire school, and Boyce was one half of the Carver building,” he said. “Starting in 1998, we had all of Carver and the dorms on the third and fourth floor were reopened. A few years after that we added Rankin Hall to be part of Boyce, but now with the move to the Mullins Complex it has just been incredible.”
Boyce College now has an on-campus enrollment of over 660 students and continues to grow through the addition of the seminary track and business programs. Beginning in the fall of 2015, Boyce will have its first extension center at the 660-acre Northland campus in Dunbar, Wisconsin.
Just as a dad does not care for his children only while they live at home, so DeKlavon cares for Boyce students long after they leave campus.
“I love to get a newsletter or prayer letter from graduates to see where they are serving now, and with things such as Facebook I can keep track of graduates no matter where they go.”