One of the things I love most about Whitworth is that our students know they need not wait to cross the stage at graduation to begin lives of service. From their first Community Building Day to service-learning courses during their senior year, our students find many opportunities to serve others.
Just a few days ago I had the awesome privilege of watching our students organize and lead a campaign to purchase, package and ship more than 600,000 meals to the hungry and foodinsecure in our region and around the globe. Dubbed "The Million Meals Campaign," this effort by our students began in September with fund-raising and organizing volunteers. On May 3, more than 1,000 students, staff, faculty and local volunteers descended upon the fieldhouse in an amazing show of community and solidarity.
Our students reminded me of three important lessons at this event. First, we should never hesitate to set big goals. When our students announced their desire to raise $250,000 to package one million meals in one day, we all knew that would be a stretch – and it was. But without such an ambitious goal, students would have never raised $150,000 and packaged more than 600,000 meals. I was reminded that we should never let the possibility of not reaching big goals dissuade us from setting them in the first place.
Second, our students' efforts affirmed one of Whitworth's core values: to give students responsibility. I will admit that there were moments during the year when I wanted to step in and direct traffic. But I resisted the temptation because I know that students must learn to handle responsibility, even if they have to learn from failure. I was also reminded that when Whitworth's students set their minds to something, they usually succeed. Finally, as the day began, one of our student leaders said to me, "We're expecting God to show up today!" At the time, I was worrying about logistics, safety, coordination and the weather. This student reminded me that despite all of the uncertainties, the only resource we could count on, and ultimately the only thing we would need, was God's presence and blessing. Well, God showed up in miraculous ways that day. I'm so thankful for our students' passion for serving others and for a university that equips them to do so. As always, please keep Whitworth in your prayers.lace. These investments sustain and encourage us to remain committed to our mission. And in those rare times when I'm feeling less than optimistic, these wonderful alumni, parents and friends give me renewed confidence and enthusiasm.
Finally, the world needs Whitworth. I am increasingly persuaded that Whitworth's graduates are best prepared, through an education that models intellectual competence, moral courage and deep compassion, to serve a world whose future is uncertain, a world that faces seemingly intractable challenges. Whitworth's graduates ask the right questions, pull together the appropriate resources, and lean into the hardest dilemmas facing society and the church. They do it with equal measures of confidence and humility. The world needs more of that.
I am confident that this university's brightest days are still ahead. As always, please keep Whitworth in your prayers.