Clarity for the New Year

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But I always feel a renewed sense of mission and purpose as January opens into a new year. A good break over the holidays allows for shedding some old worries, and offers a chance to let a new perspective emerge. I purposely do not work during this time, unless an emergency arises. With the rest I am more ready to help meet the challenges the world presents to many of us and to see more clearly where we are headed, and where we need to develop. It is a time for clear vision, and renewed commitment.

This year has been no different, and I feel that renewed energy once again. I am even ready for a new round of meetings, as well as for the ongoing problem solving and creative thinking that makes up administrative work. Each year brings new challenges and opportunities—sometime it is difficult to distinguish one from the others. I look forward to see once again the accomplishments of our students and professors. My colleagues tell me they are ready too.

This week students and professors will slowly begin to return. The semester starts next week but professors are at work already making final changes to syllabi, reading and gathering new material and planning for each of their courses. This is one of the few slower times of the year for us. By February, the semester will be full-speed-ahead through finals in May for the traditional semester programs, and the ongoing cycle of year-round programs will continue to move steadily through June. Each profession has its rhythms and patterns—this is one of ours. We are ready for the start of a new semester.

As we move forward where are we going? And what is our agenda for the year? Let me note just a few items:

  • We always focus on student success, achievement of learning outcomes and preparation for future service. This is the core of what we do as an institution of higher learning. We have had great success, and we are known for it. You can see a reflection of this success in the recent Advance, the news magazine of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (see page 40). When students learn, succeed, develop, pursue their goals and grow personally we see student achievement.
  • We are working to achieve the vision embodied in our strategic plan. The first priorities are development of diversity efforts, development of academic programs to meet student and regional needs, enrollment growth (especially in degree completion and online programs) and streamlining and simplifying our working culture on our campuses. The strategic plan is outlined in the latest Pacific magazine (see page 7). The strategic plan guides us toward becoming an institution that can thrive and achieve its mission in our current and developing environment.

We are Christian university, a unique institution in higher education, with a unique vision of Christian community and a mission to see spiritual growth and transformation in students. We seek to be a better one—isn’t that always the case? We are continuing our exploration of Gracious Christianity—what this means for us, and how it might help us understand ourselves and our students, better serve those students and improve as a university. This one of my favorite lines from the book: “…we can be assured that the future is in the hands of a God who loves us more than we love ourselves and who loves the entire world in the same way. That love is the source of all of the grace we experience in our own lives, and is the wellspring of the graciousness we seek to show to others.”