Emotions ran high as Presbyterian Pan American School marked its commencement and the changing of the guard in the president’s office on May 17-19, all climaxing the 100th anniversary celebrations of the school.  

Students, family members, faculty, administration, alums, board members and synod representatives gathered on the Kingsville, Texas, campus to participate in the commencement ceremonies for 45 graduating seniors, to say farewell to retiring President James Matthews, and to welcome the newly elected president, Robert L. “Doug” Dalglish.

Dalglish joined the international secondary school after serving as pastor of the Canyon Lake Presbyterian Church in Canyon Lake, Texas, where he served since his ordination in 1994.  After graduating in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University and serving for five years at the Radian Corp. in Austin, he earned both the M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  

Dalglish brings extensive experience working with youth, having led summer youth camps for 12 years and having provided camp and conference committee leadership for 13 years in Mission Presbytery. He also has led his growing congregation through four major building programs. And, he brings extensive study and expertise as an environmental education consultant, along with a passion to promote stewardship of the environment.  

He arrived on campus accompanied by his wife Sonja, also a Presbyterian minister.  She has specialized in Hospice chaplaincy and interim ministry. They have four adult children.

Outgoing president James Matthews came to Pan Am in the fall of 1997 from Schreiner College where he was serving as vice-president and dean of the faculty.  

“It seemed a bit strange that the church would ask an Irish scholar and university administrator to head a prep school for Hispanic kids,” he reflects, but something “clicked.” Enrollment was low, facilities were in disrepair, and staff morale was deflated. His charge from the board was clear: “save it or close it.”  

But the school had no debt ― what it needed was more students and so he hit the road to promote the school in Texas, Mexico and other Latin American countries and even in Asia and Africa.  

Matthews’ efforts bore fruit, and today in the school’s hundredth year Pan American boasts record enrollments, mostly from Latin America, but also including 14 African and 20 Asian students. A completely renovated campus with new construction currently underway, a vigorous and highly competent staff, and a firm financial basis all provide a strong foundation for the Dalglish years that lay ahead.   

Dalglish looks forward to his new role, saying, “I believe strongly in the importance of education and I believe every aspect of a person’s life should be included in education ― not just vocation but spirituality, family, personal creativity, and community service.”