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Keynote Speakers

CESA Symposium 2017 Keynote Speakers

John Couch - Monday, October 2nd

As Apple’s vice president of Education, John Couch has been responsible for driving Apple’s renewed success in the education market. He has over forty years experience as a computer scientist, executive and advocate for technology in education.  During his current tenure at Apple, John has grown Apple’s education business to 9 billion dollars.

Directly prior to his current position at Apple, Couch was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DoubleTwist Inc, a leading provider of genomic information and bioinformatic analysis technologies which made headlines by provide a comprehensive annotation of the human genome. The year before joining DoubleTwist, he was Executive in Residence for Mayfield Fund, a Venture Capital firm, where he provided strategic planning, management and technology advice to high technology companies.

Couch began his professional career in 1972 as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard, where he held held various management positions. 

In 1978 he joined Apple as Director of New Products reporting to Steve Jobs.  He was Apple’s first Vice President of Software and Vice President/General Manager for the Lisa division, Apple’s first Graphics User Interface computer. 

In 1985, he turned his focus to education at the Santa Fe Christian School where he created a business plan for the debt-laden private school into one of the first examples of how the creative use of technology can revolutionize learning in the classroom.  Under his leadership as Chairman of the Board, the school’s annual losses were annulled and the student body grew from 150 to 1000. The school’s rented facilities were expanded via the purchase of the 17-acre site, offering a range of world-class resources, including a fiber optic network of Macintosh computers.

Couch holds a Bachelor degree in computer science and a Masters degree in electrical engineering and computer science, both from the University of California at Berkeley where he was honored in 2000 as a Distinguished Alumnus. He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and a “Leadership in Innovation Award” from Philadelphia University.  He is the author of the science research associates textbook, Compiler Construction: Theory and Practice and has taught at both University of California, Berkeley and at Cal State San Jose.


Andy Crouch - Tuesday, October 3rd

In his 2016 book Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Andy Crouch continues the compelling exploration of faith and culture found in his previous books Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.

Andy serves on the governing boards of Fuller Theological Seminary and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. For more than ten years he was an editor and producer at Christianity Today (CT), including serving as executive editor from 2012 to 2016. He joined the John Templeton Foundation in 2017 as senior strategist for communication. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and several editions of Best Christian Writing and Best Spiritual Writing—and, most importantly, received a shout-out in Lecrae's 2014 single "Non-Fiction."

From 1998 to 2003, Andy was the editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine for an emerging generation of culturally creative Christians. For ten years he was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He studied classics at Cornell University and received an M.Div. summa cum laude from Boston University School of Theology. A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz, and gospel, he has led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000. He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.


Jim Denison - Sunday, October 1st

Jim Denison, Ph.D., speaks and writes on cultural and contemporary issues. He produces a daily column which is distributed to more than 113,000 subscribers in 203 countries. He also writes for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Post, Common Call, Huffington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, TheBlaze,, Religion News Service, and Pathos.

He serves as Resident Scholar for Ethics with Baylor Scott & White Health, where he addresses issues such as genetic medicine and reproductive science. He serves as Senior Fellow with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, where he addresses issues related to politics and religious liberty. And he serves as Senior Fellow for Global Studies at Dallas Baptist University, where he leads the Institute for Global Engagement, chairs the Advisory Board, teaches doctoral seminars, and speaks frequently on campus.

Dr. Denison has taught philosophy of religion and apologetics for over thirty years with four seminaries. He has spoken in China, Cuba, Brazil, Australia, Europe, Israel, Greece, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Turkey. He leads frequent study tours in Israel, Greece, and Europe, and served as a short-term missionary to East Malaysia.

Dr. Denison speaks widely on radical Islam, medical ethics, geopolitics, and other cultural issues. He has served on the boards of Baylor Health Care System, Dallas Baptist University, Mercer University, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute, Howard Payne University, and the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

Prior to founding the Denison Forum in 2009, Dr. Denison was pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church, a 10,000-member congregation in Dallas, Texas. He also pastored churches in Midland and Mansfield, Texas, and in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Dallas Baptist University.

He is the author of seven books: Radical Islam: What You Need to KnowWrestling with God: How Can I Love a God I’m Not Sure I Can Trust?The Bible–You Can Believe It: Biblical Authority in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Myth and the MangerLife on the Brick Pile: Answers to Suffering from the Letters of RevelationSeven Crucial Questions About the Bible; and It’s Your Mission: The Church’s Responsibility to the Least of These. For more access to these books and more resources by Jim, please see his personal site,

His wife, Janet, is a published author and speaker (, and directs They live in Dallas and are the parents of two sons: Ryan, a doctoral student at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute; and Craig, Director of Brand Strategy and Spiritual Formation for Denison Forum.


Gabe Lyons - Monday, October 2nd

Gabe Lyons is the co-author of Good Faith (2016), unChristian (2007) and authored The Next Christians (2010), as a manifesto for how Christians can faithfully lead in a changing culture.

He is the founder of Q, a learning community of Christian leaders where they are equipped to engage our cultural moment. Their Q Conference annually convenes thousands of leaders from all industries while Q Commons, their global event simultaneously unites 140 cities and over 10,000 people on an October evening (www.QCommons

.com). Called "sophisticated and orthodox" by

The New York Times, Q equips Christians apply their faith to daily life by addressing some of the most difficult and controversial issues of our time. Gabe speaks to over 100,000 people each year on topics of equipping the next generation, cultural issues and research related to the intersection of faith and public life.

He lives in Nashville with his wife, Rebekah, and their three children.


Rick Ostrander - Monday, October 2nd

A scholar of American religion and a respected academic administrator throughout the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Ostrander brings more than two decades of experience in Christian higher education to the Council. 

“In Rick, we have found the right person at the right time for this essential and strategic leadership position,” said CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra. “I am thrilled that scholar and leader with his integrity and vision for Christian higher education will be joining our team, enriching and improving our membership services and student programs while modeling academic excellence for our faculty and administrators.” 

Ostrander is past provost of CCCU member Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he served from 2009 to 2015. Before that, he served as dean of undergraduate studies and associate professor of history at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. 

Ostrander received a Fulbright award in 2004 to teach and conduct a curriculum review at the University of Wurzburg in Wurzburg, Germany. He has written numerous articles and is the author of “Reconsidering College: Christian Higher Education for Working Adults” (2014) and “Why College Matters to God: Academic Faithfulness and Christian Higher Education” (2009). 

Ostrander received his Ph.D. in American history at the University of Notre Dame and holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan and Moody Bible Institute. He has also served on the CCCU’s Chief Academic Officers commission and has spoken frequently at CCCU campuses and academic conferences, discussing diverse topics such as the digital revolution, education for cultural influence, developing Christian virtues, and sustainable models of campus internationalization.