It is a privilege to serve at George Fox University. For generations, professors and staff have helped students prepare for a vocational calling and consistently introduced them to the life of Christ. We serve to impact students. It is what drives us to come to work each day. It is why I love what I do.
With that said, I will be taking a break from administrative duties from January through April. If you haven’t heard, the university’s board of trustees has encouraged me to take a sabbatical. It’s not something I embraced at first because I actually love my job and find great joy in serving at George Fox University. Nevertheless, I do agree that taking time away can enable me to gain new insights into my own inner life as well as increase my understanding of how I might more effectively advance the mission of George Fox. Our future is bright, but as the environment of higher education continues to change we will also have to innovate. We will need our best thinking to stay vibrant in the future.
First, I will spend time reading and working with the extensive papers of Levi Pennington, a man who had a dynamic impact on the history and mission of the institution. He served as president of the college for 30 years and led during very difficult times. In reading his work, I’ve been inspired by how he met the challenges the college faced and remained faithful at all times to the mission. My hope is to identify a series of letters that could be published or shared for the benefit of the entire community.
Secondly, as Ruth and I travel, we will center much of what we do on spiritual experiences that advance our relationship with God. We will spend time in England and Ireland at places that are deeply spiritual to me. I hope, again, to renew my own personal interest in C.S. Lewis and other Inklings. I will read much of Lewis again as well as other spiritual books that I wouldn’t have time to read during my normal work schedule.
Finally, physical health is important to me, so I am running a number of races to get my competitive juices flowing and enjoy places I have wanted to experience.
The university will remain in good hands. The vice presidents are excellent leaders and work effectively as a team. A colleague and friend, Fred Gregory, who has been serving as a special assistant to me, will provide continuity in the president’s office. Fred is not only a former chief executive officer but also a graduate of George Fox and someone who is grounded in the tradition of the university. He will lead the VPs to ensure continuity at the leadership level. In addition, a group of board members will increase their involvement in the spring to make sure that the university continues to serve students and the mission well.
You will still see me at music and athletic events and interacting with students. These things give us “life,” and I will continue to enjoy those aspects of the university during my sabbatical.