Anne and I will never forget the life-changing telephone call to us in Manila, Philippines from Dr. Harold Graves, Sr., Mount Vernon Nazarene College board chair. The time was 3 a.m., July 28, 1989, Manila time. He informed us of my election as president of the college.
We needed some time to process the news since I had recently attended a profoundly impacting Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism with delegates from 192 countries worldwide. With new commitments to the global mission of the Christian church, I was unsure as to how these re-affirmed convictions fit into a regional college in the United States. After about three days of solitude and prayer, Anne and I accepted the assignment. We communicated to Dr. Graves that “...living outside the United States for 10 of the past 12 years, we believe, will enable us to lead the cam-pus community to think more globally, live more simply, give more generously and love more deeply.”
The early years in Mount Vernon were difficult for Anne, Stephen and me. From Manila (a metropolis of 15 million in population) to Mount Vernon (a city of 15,000).
It took me only a few weeks on campus in 1989 to realize that my first major capital building campaign would be to finance and construct a new library facility. I didn’t realize that the planning, fundraising, and construction project would take us about seven years to complete what is now the Thorne Library/Learning Resource Center.
During the November 1989 annual meeting of the MVNC board, three months after we arrived in Mount Vernon, I asked the board to approve a strategic planning committee to shape “A Decadal Agenda” for the board to consider as the strategic direction for the college. The report was submitted to the board in November 1991 and unanimously adopted. It became the roadmap for college growth during the 1990s.
Early in my tenure at MVNC, I identified for the board four priorities to which I should give at least 80 percent of my time. 1. Spiritual leadership to the campus community; 2. College-wide strategic thinking, planning, and implementation; 3. Christian leadership development — locally, regionally and worldwide; and 4. Major donor cultivation/gifting and endowment development.
These priorities characterized me at my best and convicted me at my worst during the first five years of my tenure at “The Naz”! What a growth-producing journey.