Whitworth is in the midst of an awfully good year. In this ailing economy, we never could have imagined our vital signs would be so strong. Our mission lives in the hearts and minds of our students. We are grateful. Our most recent source of thanksgiving came when construction began on the new science building. We still need gift support to complete the funding plan, but we believe Whitworth's many friends will step forward.
When I was in college, our basketball team headed off in a blizzard for an away game in Minnesota. None of us felt even modest surprise when our bus piled into a snow bank. The next day, the coach of a nationally ranked in-state rival observed that we must have had "potatoes for brains to leave the university."
In September, I announced that this would be my last year as Whitworth's president. In the midst of this great year, there are days when I hear that coach's words about having "potatoes for brains to leave the university." But I know this is the right thing to do. I don't know how anyone could love a place more than Bonnie and I love Whitworth. I will always consider Whitworth my life's work. This university embodies our most deeply held spiritual and professional values, but we believe that the time has come for me to step away.
In making this decision, I am fully convinced that Whitworth will benefit from the new ideas, skills, energies and passions of a new president. The university will be able to launch its 2010-15 strategic plan with new leadership and a great administrative team. I'm not sure exactly what my future holds, but I have agreed to be available on a part-time basis to work for the new president behind the scenes. At Manchester College, I followed a 30-year president. I learned great ways to support a new president without getting in the way.
I'll write a little more about my departure in the spring issue of the magazine. I have a lot to do between now and June 30, so I need to stay focused. To do that, my plan is to postpone all the farewell stuff until the end of the academic year. We're coiling for a pretty good party.
Just a brief glance at this issue of Whitworth Today should convince you that Whitworth continues to prepare its students for lives of service. We are on the move. For 120 years, God has blessed this place. This morning at Parents' Weekend worship, I spoke from the text that tells the story about a synagogue leader named Jairus who asked Jesus to heal his daughter. The whole story turns when the servants come to Jairus and report that it is too late for a miracle. Jesus replies, "Don't be afraid; just believe." These are always good words. Fear cripples us. Faith propels us. In times of challenge and in times of prosperity, our courage comes from our faith in Christ. At Whitworth, we believe.