Dr. Nicholson: The Future Can Be Ours
The Future Can Be Ours
[Editor's Note: Based in part on the final report to the Board of Trustees that Robert Nicholson made as retiring president, Mary 4, 1990. Written especially for Faith Learning & Life: Views from the President’s Office of Anderson University. Callen, Dr. Barry L. Anderson, Indiana: Warner Press, 1991.]
At any moment in time an institution and its leaders must be working on the immediate, and intermediate, and the long-range. The immediate for the faculty member means the courses presently being taught. For the administrator it means the maintenance of a sound and viable operation. And for all, it means the lives and the Christian maturing of the students whom God has given us.
The intermediate demands a look beyond the current semester or the present year. In October of each school year we on the Anderson campus began shaping the staff and program of the following year. Two-year catalogs went to press in October. So the sense of the intermediate, the multi-year was always with us.
But it is the long-range—that future that lies beyond this student generation, even beyond these faculty and officers—that must attract and even consume the attention particularly of the president. Purpose, people, and program in the immediate and intermediate must be informed by the future vision, the future opportunity, the future calling of the Lord.
What do I think is the future of Anderson University? Clearly the first issue is viability as an institution. I’ve been around higher education long enough to know that viability always has been an issue. It relates in part to size, but fortunately we don’t need to grow in size to be viable. Viability for us also means staying close to the church. That is absolutely crucial, as are the pursuit of excellence, the blending of faith and learning, and continuing our pattern of operating with a balanced budget. Beyond mere viability, however, lies the crucial matter of vision for the future, believing in a great future that yet remains beyond our grasp.
Looking ten or more years into the future and assuming viability, vision and faith, I see the possibility of Anderson University being a fine, possibly great, small Christian university. I really think that is out there for us. It will embody the Church of God at its best, by which in part I mean practicing the highest vision of Christian unity, genuine openness coupled with true piety, sturdy beliefs without stultifying dogmas. That is out there and accomplishable.
And for the university to fulfill its potential greatness the School of Theology must be close to the hearts of the University, the Church of God and a cluster of holiness bodies and emphases. The seminary’s relatively small enrollment size is deceiving; the School of Theology is absolutely central to the university and to the church.
As faculty member and administrator I have seen forty-five of the university’s seventy-three years. She has evidenced a remarkable growth, strong leadership and a devotion to student development, maturity, and calling. These come out of the school’s sturdy rootage in the Church of God. I am very optimistic about the future beyond my time, for I know the quality and devotion of the university’s people. This future can be ours!