For the last 18 years, I have served at the University of Dubuque; first as Dean of the theological seminary and, for the last 16 years, as President. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, having served congregations in Murrysville, PA and Seattle, WA.
Over the last decade-and-a-half, the UD has undergone one of the most dramatic transformations among colleges and universities in America. A school that almost closed in the late 1990s is now recognized among its peers for its growth in enrollment, achievements in philanthropy, innovation in curriculum, adaptation to America’s changing demographics, and complete remake of the campus physical presence. During that time, members of our faculty and staff have dared to take risks and innovate. Our Trustees have provided exceptional philanthropic support complemented with insightful counsel. And the student body of our college, seminary, graduate and LIFE programs have continued to inspire all of us as we, together, witness their own personal transformations into the very best that they have been created to be.
I have come to learn over the years that there are two primary reasons these achievements. First, the University’s Mission is winsome and inspirational. There is something extraordinary that happens to human beings when, together, they commit to a missional goal and identity that is a) seemingly unachievable, and b) larger than any one individual. Secondly, at the core of that organizational transformation is the humble yet complex set of gifts and characteristics we call leadership. In fact, leadership does matter. And more than any other topic, leadership is the subject about which I am invited to speak to classes, lead seminars, provide in-services, and support ecclesial and civic gatherings; thus, the organizing topic of this blog.
Most importantly, though, I am a husband to my wife, Dana, and father to three energetic, unique, and inspirational sons. None of the blessings or professional accolades I have received make a twit of difference compared to the joy and responsibility of being a husband and father. As one author I’ll reference notes, leadership begins in our own spheres of influence which, for most of us, is with our family. It is within these spheres of influence that we learn to work together, support one another, disagree in a civil way and, love…all of which are important ingredients in the formation of leaders who make a difference in the world.