By Norm Miller, LC News
PINEVILLE — Louisiana College elevated one of its own as dean of the School of Human Behavior, Dr. Joshua Joy Dara, who is senior pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Pineville.
Having previously served as an adjunct professor, Dara became assistant professor for Criminal Justice in 2017. As dean, Dara will oversee Psychology, Social Work, Criminal justice, and the graduate program for Social Work.
Dara’s expectations for the School of Behavior to be known for academic excellence and successful graduates: “Social work is community-oriented work. A lot of our students in criminal justice are going in to law enforcement, some will become lawyers or border patrol even psychology, we are sending people into society,” said Dara. “I want our school to produce students that will change the world for the glory of God.”
Because he loves teamwork, Dara utilizes his life experiences to dedicate service that contributes to the success of Louisiana College. “I served as an adjunct professor for 2-3 years, then I became an assistant professor, and I have been in this role as a full-time employee for more than a year. So if you look at it together, it’s been about 4 years,” Dara said.
“Dr. Dara’s life history, his commitment to superior academics, and his spiritual walk with God all bring a welcome, but not unusual combination of attributes already embodied by our faculty,” Louisiana College President Dr. Rick Brewer said. “Joshua’s unique life history reflects what can happen when a person who comes from nearly nothing will strive for excellence. He has attained a commendable measure of success.”
Noting his life has been “a very exciting journey,” Dara said what enables him to “willingly accept these responsibilities is my commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have always been a servant leadership type, and I always want to serve because Christ has been so good to me. The least I can do is to make myself available to serve in the kingdom of God.”
Raised by white American Baptist missionaries who taught him the Gospel and provided a diverse background, Dara, who is from Nigeria, said, “The Lord has enabled me to serve in different capacities. God was just opening doors, I mean I am a very blessed man.”
Since 1996, Dara has served as senior pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Pineville. As an attorney, in 2015 he completed 20 years of legal services for children who had been removed from their parents’ care, or who were otherwise under the care and custody of the Department of Children and Family Services, for the Mental Health Advocacy Center in Pineville.
Dara holds several state licenses to practice law, has had several articles and books published, and has been actively involved in local civic organizations. In 2009, he was named one of CenLa’s Fifteen Most Influential People by the CenLa Focus Magazine.
Dara earned his Juris Doctorate from Southern University, Baton Rouge: a Master of Laws (post doctorate) from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville: and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from California Baptist University, Riverside.
“I am a product of a Baptist college,” Dara said. “So, this is like I am at home. I’ve always been crazy about Baptist colleges and institutions, and the Baptists are very much responsible for my success today. I owe it to them. God has used them to be a blessing to me.”
Dara said he is “glad to be a part of what God is doing in this college. You know one thing that is really driving me to this — I love the president of this college. I am telling you God is using that man in an incredible way.”
“It’s easy to lead when you have a good foundation to build upon,” Dara continued. “I felt eager and prepared very much so because of experience both in business, ministry, law practice, and the academics. And I cherish a leadership that has integrity.”
Louisiana College’s Vision of Preparing Graduates and Transforming Lives “is the lifeblood of Louisiana College,” Brewer said. “And Dr. Dara brings the kind of energy and insight to help us realize the success for which we strive. His leadership undergirds the continuing turnaround at this great institution.”