I have been asked to introduce myself to the FPU community and I welcome the opportunity to do so. I was born in Fort Wayne, IN, and spent most of my childhood on a cul-de-sac in a small town in south central Michigan. It was very much a Leave-It-to-Beaveresque childhood. Of particular note, immediately adjacent to our neighborhood stood a Holiness campground and this reinforced my persistent sense of God’s presence.
At 12, my family moved across the country to Ashland, OR, where, through differing circumstances, each one was soundly converted. My teen years were filled with distance running, discipleship and a near-death experience due to a ruptured appendix. After high school I traveled 1,900 miles to attend Oral Roberts University, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological & Historical Studies. Most importantly, I met and married the love of my life, Jodi. My academic odyssey was completed at Drew University in Madison, NJ, with an interdisciplinary Doctorate in Modern History and Literature, with a focus on 19th century religion and culture. The highlight of those years was the birth of our first daughter, Katherine, as I had the joy and privilege of being her primary care-giver during the first two years of her life.
By the grace of God, I eventually found a tenure-track appointment in a tight job market. It was during that appointment that Jodi and I welcomed our second daughter, Meredith, into the world. While I deeply loved teaching, my career path soon veered in a direction I had never anticipated . . . academic administration. Throughout my administrative career, my leadership style has been highly collaborative and maximally transparent. My collaboration leads me to engage not only the faculty, staff, administration and students (whenever appropriate), but quite often includes input from my learned colleagues and experts outside our institution. I am also a firm believer in making data-informed decisions. By staying abreast of best practices in higher education through extensive reading, regular attendance at professional conferences, my position on the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission and networking with peers, I find that I have greater credibility with the campus community when I speak on issues with which we are wrestling. At the same time, I believe it is important to admit when one is wrong and to keep short accounts with everyone.
Outside of work, I enjoy thrifting, reading, museums, but most of all, spending time with my family. Katherine, now 28, is married and lives in Buffalo Grove, IL, with her husband, Chris; and Meredith, 22, lives at home while working and attending college. At this writing, Mer is headed for Haiti to serve on a short-term mission. Jodi works as a children’s librarian in Huntley, IL, where she enjoys the adoration of minions of munchkins, many of whom want to be just like “the story lady” when they grow up. Funny, no one ever says, “I want to be a provost when I grow up!” Then again, hardly anyone knows what that is and if they did, it hardly holds the thrill of being a pro athlete, dot-com mogul or story lady. On the other hand, at least my cocker spaniel, Henry, treats me like a rock star. I miss them all and appreciate their sharing me with you as together we serve Christ and the cause of Christian higher education.