Some might wonder…What does a college president do during the summer when classes are not in session?
Following up on my prior summer posts, my goal is to continue to connect with students, families, and potential education partners, all summer long. Here’s the latest opportunity.
Today I’m in China, building relationships with educators at Chinese universities. This visit also involves lecturing. In this photo you’ll see the poster “advertising” my lecture. I’m standing with Philip Huang, Director of International Cooperation and Exchanges at Yancheng Teachers University.
And in this photo, I’m with leaders from Yancheng Medical College. Great people!
The hospitality I’m experiencing is wonderful and the food–amazing!
But most important, I’m discovering that our countries’ colleges share areas of mutual concern, both in terms of students and faculty. Hopefully, later this summer and into fall, some of the ideas we’ve discussed will take root and blossom into action.
Future Trinity Trolls?
Enjoying a game with my son Fekadu and his sister Yaineabeba.
With summer comes opportunities for our family to watch the Chicago Fire in action. The professional soccer team plays at Toyota Park, just 10 to 15 minutes up the road from Trinity. We partner with Chicago Fire in two ways: a summer camp co-offered by the Fire and Trinity and our annual Faith and Family night at Toyota Park. The soccer camp participants will start arriving on our campus on July 7, making good use of the three new soccer fields of the George and June Schaaf Athletics Complex during the summer months. More info can be found at http://www.chicago-fire.com/youth/ntc.
Some of the Trinity students who gathered at the Chicago Fire and Trinity Faith & Family Night last year.
And we’re putting Saturday, September 14, on our calendar for the annual Trinity Faith and Family night! We anticipate that once again, hundreds of Trinity students, faculty, staff, and friends of the College will gather to watch an exciting game and enjoy the company of the Trinity community. This year, the Chicago Fire will be playing the New England Revolution. For more information, call 708.239.4822 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a busy academic year, I’m ready for summer…
I’m often traveling on behalf of Trinity over the summer months. Recently I was blessed to meet with various friends of the College in the Pella, Iowa, area. The Dutch ethnic roots in Pella are strong, as Kim Gritters ’94 demonstrated to me!
Enjoying a visit with alumna Kim Gritters
In thinking about the Pella influence at Trinity, I recalled a photo from the recent commencement ceremony. Pictured below are two new Iowa alumni, Joshua Starkey and Tyler Van Zee (wearing their caps and sporting their new diplomas), along with fellow graduates Johnathan Groenenboom (December), also of Pella, and Mark Timmerman of Holland, Michigan. As always, we encourage Pella area students to consider Trinity!
l-r: Joshua Starkey, Johnathan Groenenboom, Mark Timmerman, and Tyler Van Zee
Commencements are bittersweet. Students—certain to brighten my day when I would see them on the campus sidewalk, in the library, or at the Bootsma Bookstore Café —are now off to the next chapter in their lives. I’ll miss them.
But one of the best parts of commencement is talking to parents after the ceremony. Some, with their second or third child now finished at Trinity, have demonstrated steadfast faithfulness—driving long distances for choir concerts, continuously providing the support their child needs, and including Trinity in their prayers.
And then there are the parents I am blessed to meet for the first time. It’s always great to note, from parent to child, the same smile, the shared positive attitude, or the similar intensity of faith.
As one faculty member said to me as she began darting across the lawn to introduce herself to her former student’s mother, “I have to meet his mom; she must be incredible, because she’s raised him to be such a fine young man.” Amen!
We were blessed to meet (and meet again) many of the parents and families of our wonderful 2013 graduates at this year’s Commencement!
Love Palos! Last Saturday was our annual service day. Using my brief time at the microphone at the beginning of the day, I reminded students of philosopher and Trinity alumnus Lee Hardy’s instruction that our calling as Christians is first and foremost to love God and neighbor. Places like job, campus, and community provide the social place where we respond to our shared calling—and for Saturday morning at Trinity, to love our neighbor because God first loved us. My task? To work on the Cal-Sag Trail, along with students from Trinity and other institutions, all participating in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. Good weather; great fellowship! Here’s a link to the photogallery.
Typically every weekend on campus holds a few events that a college president may want to attend, including athletics, music, drama, and many other possibilities. And while I don’t get to every event I would like to attend, there’s never a dull moment!
Consider this past weekend. My wife and I began Friday evening by attending the Steve Green concert, which was wonderful and inspirational.
We left at intermission to walk over to the Golden Troll Awards—Trinity’s version of music video awards. The videos were great fun. We thought the best was the one crafted in honor of our Mail and Print Center.
To round out the array of weekend activities, there were also athletic events, Student Activities’ Amazing Race in downtown Chicago, and a student violin concert Saturday evening.
Thanks to social media and internal communications, although I cannot attend all of the weekend events, I can capture glimpses of the wonderful activities that are a part of campus life at Trinity.
The purpose of my recent trip to Ethiopia was to provide an opportunity for our two youngest sons to reconnect with family and friends since their adoption into our family nearly three years ago.
We gathered for our first family photo after the boys’ arrival from Ethiopia in September 2010. Front row (l to r): Jess, Katie, Becca, and Getenet; back row (l to r): Fekadu, me, Barbara, and Paul
When they were orphaned more than 10 years ago, Yezelalem Minch stepped in. Yezelalem Minch is a non-profit organization in Addis Ababa that cares for orphaned children, working with Bethany Christian Services to provide opportunities for adoption or with local support systems to help children be enfolded into families in the area. In addition, they care for other vulnerable children by means of nutrition programs, recreation activities, and educational support.
As we planned our trip to Ethiopia, we asked the organization’s leaders what they would like us to bring. Their first choice? Jerseys for their soccer team. Jose Dominguez ’03, men’s soccer coach at Trinity, gathered more than a dozen gently-used jerseys and shorts, as well as special goalkeeping jerseys. Now the Yezelalem Minch team proudly sports Trinity uniforms!
Recently I was in Ethiopia, where I was blessed to connect with others who share a vision for Christian higher education, a vision that has positive impacts on every aspect of society. Hope Enterprises has served children and families with their needs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, since 1971.
Emerging from this work, its leader founded Hope University College in Addis Ababa in 2003, accepting its first students in 2011. The school partners with organizations in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands. I learned about the school through colleagues at the Christian University of Applied Science (Christelijke Hogeschool Ede) in the Netherlands.
The president, Dr. Teketel Forssido, is an educator (agricultural sciences) and former Ethiopian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation. The vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Letemeskel Asfaw, is a physicist who spent many years in the U.S.
I am looking forward to partnership activities between Trinity and Hope University College!
Last week we had the privilege to host 12-time Dove Award-winning artist Cindy Morgan and critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Andrew Greer on the “Hymns For Hunger Tour” presented by Food for the Hungry.
Andrew Greer and Cindy Morgan
Because of our neighboring ministry, Under the Radar, these artists—using banjo, guitar, ukulele, and other folk instruments—sang for an enthusiastic group of Trinity students.
Many of their songs were new interpretations of familiar gospel hymns and spirituals. One, “I’ll Fly Away”, gives voice to the hope of escaping the problems of this world into the glory of life eternal. As I listened, my mind jumped to Easter. Christ’s resurrection gives us the hope of God’s kingdom even now and in our lives to come. An oft-repeated word from “I’ll Fly Away” and from Christians celebrating Easter around the world: Hallelujah!
Zeke and Troy became Food for the Hungry child sponsors that night!
When I look back on the last few weeks, I’m astounded at the wide variety of groups with which I am able to participate. One is the Associated Colleges of Illinois, a group of two dozen private liberal arts institutions. At the most recent executive committee meeting, we discussed ways to collaborate better.
Also, I attended the board meeting of the denomination of which I’m a member and was struck by the similarity of issues facing churches and higher education. A recent meeting I attended of the Palos Area Community Advisory Board included a report on how the city of Palos Heights is using results of a survey completed by a team of our business students. Last but not least, the Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities met March 7-8 on our campus (pictured below), as presidents, provosts, and other campus leaders also sought answers to increase collaboration.
I suspect in every job collaboration and team work are increasingly important; it certainly is true for those of us working together at Trinity Christian College. Most importantly for students, in every major and program (not to mention in student activities and athletic teams) young men and women here learn how to work as part of teams, so that they will be effective collaborators in their vocations, churches, and communities.
While it’s been said that “two heads are better than one,” I like to take that idea one step further and rely on I Corinthians 12: “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…As it is, there are many parts, but one body…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”