Michael J. Beals, Ph.D., takes the podium as Vanguard University's 10th president during an inauguration ceremony at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach on Friday. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / February 7, 2014)

Michael Beals was inaugurated as the 10th president of Vanguard University during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Beals, who had been the dean of spiritual formation at the Christian university in Costa Mesa, in August 2013 replaced Carol Taylor, who had served for four years as president.

Since taking over as president, Beals has focused on building the strategic vision of the university to promote Christian higher education in a way that is "meaningful, relevant and impactful," according to a news release.

Mirroring the tradition of many universities, Vanguard administration opted to give Beals some time to settle into his new position before hosting the inauguration ceremony, the release stated.

Before Taylor became president in 2009, Vanguard had been marred by financial problems and burdened by millions in debt. The university has since recovered, and in 2013 it was ranked No. 10 in U.S. News and World Report's list of regional colleges in the West.

Beals earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from Vanguard in the late 1970s. He began teaching at the university as an adjunct faculty member in 1991, eventually leaving the college in 2009.

He returned full-time to Vanguard in 2012 as the dean of spiritual formation — a position that serves as the university pastor for the Vanguard community — leaving his post as the senior pastor of the Mission Hills Community Church in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Beals has also been actively involved in global outreach in Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, China, Israel, Switzerland, France, England and Scotland.

—Hannah Fry

@HannahFryTCN