Last night we held our annual employee-recognition dinner. These events always feature the same great things – lots of shrimp, lots of love. We're all in a good mood. The food is delectable, the academic year is at an end, and we celebrate the blessing of Whitworth's community and mission.
I received a lovely dish for my 15-year anniversary. Bonnie's telling me it isn't for cereal. But it's my dish, not our dish. I'm glad we got to choose gifts online this year. Otherwise, I suspect they would have given me a rocking chair, or maybe a gurney. The indignity of it all.
This issue of Whitworth Today has some great stories, but it doesn't have a particular theme that beckons me to comment. So, in the afterglow of last night, I'm going to list the first 15 things that come to mind when I think about why I love Whitworth – one for each year.
15. The Core Program. We live in a culture that encourages fragmentation between, among and within people. Core attacks that fragmentation. While exploring historical influences on how we think and feel, Core helps students integrate their ideas in a way that produces integrity between their thoughts and their behavior.
14. French dip sandwiches at Chez Sodexo. The general disposition of our entire student body rises sharply on the days we unite around French dips.
12. Music, theatre and athletics. It's ridiculous that I get pats on the back for attending campus events. It's not exactly a sacrifice to watch students perform at high levels of excellence in venues I love.
11. Communion. For so many reasons, I am overcome when I see our students humble themselves at Christ's table.
10. Whitworth's extended family. On an early run across our mostly vacated campus this morning, I spotted seniors (demographically speaking) Bob and Claire MacDonald on their daily hand-holding walk. They inspire us all, and they have provided scholarships for 218 students.
9. Whenever Dale Soden finishes singing.
8. An environment in which people who disagree with each other protect each other. I have yet to meet a faculty member on the liberal-conservative continuum who wants to silence his or her counterparts. In fact, faculty and staff members at Whitworth recognize that, ultimately, freedom to disagree provides protection for their ideas.
7. When members of our community say, "I'm different, but I belong." This is a challenge, but one worth fighting to meet. We are enriched by people who bring backgrounds that differ from those of the Whitworth majority (whatever that is).
6. Our time zone, for about a million reasons.
5. Our geography. We absolutely love this community and Whitworth's place in it. Spokane is big enough to have bountiful resources and small enough so that Whitworth really matters to the community. Further, the Whitworth neighborhood has excellent public schools and affordable housing. So, many of our faculty and staff live close enough to be a part of the extracurricular life.
4. Bruchi's chicken cheese steak. I hope I am never granted a wish that forces me to choose between world peace and a Bruchi's chicken cheese steak.
3. Amazing scholarship at every level. Students and faculty produce work that enjoys national recognition. We are a serious learning community that values scholarly excellence.
2. Our students. Besides being good scholars, our students see the duty and joy in serving people in need. The mind and heart of Christ's gospel move to the hands and feet of our students.
1. Whitworth's mission. Through my entire adult life, I have longed to reflect the grace and truth of a life given to Christ. The Whitworth mission declares an uncompromising commitment to Christ, the living God. But it makes that declaration in a grace-filled humility that invites different and even challenging ideas about Christ's truth as we understand it. Whitworth believes that truth will prevail and that we prepare students best in an environment that foreshadows culture's assaults. For me, there's no better place to live, learn and serve.