A call to Tabor: Janzen returns to serve his alma mater

A move to Hillsboro was not simply a job change for the Janzen family—it was a calling. 

Dr. David and Karen Janzen accepted early retirement from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in late 2020, opening an unknown door for what was next. 

“When the early exit program came out, we just immediately wondered if it was what God had been preparing us for,” Janzen said. “Without knowing what was next, it was trusting him that he had something else.”

Something else, indeed. 

Within one week of solidifying his decision to leave Cal Poly, effective June 2021, the opening for Tabor College president was publicized. A call soon followed from Board Chair Susan Franz Koslowsky to gauge his interest in applying for the position. It served as the beginning of a spirit-filled journey, culminating in the selection of Janzen as Tabor’s 14th president. He succeeded President Emeriti Jules Glanzer, who retired after nearly 14 years in the role.

It was a grand homecoming for Janzen, returning to his alma mater after graduating 31 years earlier.

“God continues to call people to His work through Tabor College. We are excited and passionate about the mission of Tabor, and we pray that God will glorify Himself through this important work.”

President David Janzen

Franz Koslowsky spoke of witnessing his leadership and authenticity, both through the interview process and now in his term as president. 

“The passion that President Janzen has shown for our Tabor students, both academically and spiritually, is strong,” Franz Koslowsky said. “His entrepreneurial spirit and experience in higher education have made him a great fit. He cares deeply for Tabor, and his unwavering faith will be instrumental in leading the continued success of our community.” 

Tabor College ties are strong for David and for Karen, who attended Tabor for two years. Both are third-generation Tabor alumni, with all four of their parents having attended Tabor and each having a grandfather who attended Tabor. Their son Alexander made it four generations after graduating in 2017.

David was also heavily involved in campus activities and ministries. He spent time on the soccer roster and participated in Harvest Crew, the campus worship team. He was in leadership for Share, Prayer & Dare (SP&D) and the Campus Ministries Council (CMC). He was also in the pep band, the choir and was an RA for two years.

“We’ve heard from so many immediate and extended family members that are so excited about our Tabor connections,” Janzen said. “… Many of them have gone to Tabor, and there is a genuine excitement for us taking this role and that is so encouraging to me.”

Janzen was born on March 9, 1968, in Independence, Kan. He and his family later moved to Enid, Okla., where he graduated from Oklahoma Bible Academy before starting at Tabor in 1986.

He graduated from Tabor with a B.A. in mathematics and computer science in 1990. He later earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Kansas in 1993 and 2006, respectively. He began his work professionally at Sprint, working in software from 1993-97. He then taught at Bethel College, North Newton, Kan., from 1997-2006 and the University of Kansas from 1991-93 and 2004-06.

Before taking over as Tabor president, Janzen served as software engineering coordinator and professor of computer science at Cal Poly for 15 years. He also briefly served as adjunct faculty at Westmont College in Montecito, Calif., from August to December of last year.

Janzen is also the co-founder of Steadfast Innovation LLC, which created the handwriting note-taking application Squid for Android and ChromeOS pen-based devices. Squid has over five million downloads, is a Google Play Editor’s Choice and was featured by Google as one of the top eight applications for education. The application led to strategic partnerships across the technology industry, including Microsoft and Google, among others. He is also the owner, consultant and trainer of Simex. He created the “Java Essentials for Android” course, which attracted over 10,000 subscribers. 

His business, education and entrepreneurial acumen has taken Janzen globally, but his personal mission to integrate Christ into his work hasn’t wavered. 

“Your Christian faith is not just about you and what you believe and how you worship,” he said. “It’s about what God is going to do through you and how He is going to use you in this world.”

His Sept. 24 inauguration was built around the theme of “Compelled by Grace, Called to Obedience, Christ in Us.” Janzen said that he prays the words not only serve as the foundation of his presidency, but for what God has in store for the college.