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Campus Message: Announcement of Final Year as Whitworth President

Sept. 15, 2009

Dear Whitworth colleagues,

What a good start to our 120th year! Thanks for all the extra work you did to get ready for this great assembly of students. It's going to be an exciting year.

With all the energy of this new year, it feels awkward for me to tell you that I have informed the board of trustees that I would like 2009-2010 to be my final year as Whitworth University's president.

I am not nearly a good enough writer to express how much Bonnie and I have loved working here with you, and I'm sure you know that we consider Whitworth to be the embodiment of our most deeply held spiritual and professional values, but we sense the time has come for me to step away.

After many prayers and careful assessments, I'm convinced that leaving the presidency is best for Whitworth and best for Bonnie and me. As far as Whitworth is concerned, I am totally convinced that the university will benefit from the new ideas, skills, energies and passions of a new president. Whitworth will be able to launch its 2010-2015 strategic plan with a new president and a great cabinet to guide the university on a long term basis. 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 president in areas such as fund-raising.

As for me, I just think it's time to step back. This is my 17th year at Whitworth and my 24th as a college president. Bonnie and I have lived where I work for two-thirds of our married life. We love it. And I love going out and campaigning for Whitworth, but I think maybe my adrenaline addiction is masking some fatigue. I'm not ready to retire, but I am ready to quiet myself and listen. We love Spokane and have no plans to leave. I feel God's hand in our future, and it feels good.

I do have one request. The reason Bonnie and I didn't settle on this decision until Sunday night is because I'm concentrating more on starting a year than on ending a tenure. We have a lot to get done between now and June 30. So, both my schedule and my emotions would benefit if all of us can focus on our work and on Whitworth's bright future rather than on the past progress we've made. Maybe we can have a group hug in May, but my request is that we not use our energy on farewell things until the end of the academic year. Thanks.

Shortly, you will hear from board chair Walt Oliver about the presidential search. He is a very gifted leader, ideal for this transition. Greg Orwig will send out a press release later today, but I wanted to communicate this message to you directly. I also want you to know that I will always consider Whitworth to be my life work. You have made me a better leader than I was ever meant to be. Thank you. Now, please join me in getting back to the good work of helping our students to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity.