A president with a mission (continued)
|President Kim S. Phipps prioritizes spending time with students. She takes time to enjoy a hot dog with Messiah students at a residence hall picnic.
As president, why do you think it is important to create regular opportunities for face-to-face communication with members of the Messiah College community?
To lead a community, you have to know that community, and that can only happen through communication and interaction. When I first became the president, a number of people in different contexts asked me whether I was going to be an internal president or an external president. I believe I need to be both. First, to effectively lead, you have to care for the internal community, to know that community, to have a passion for what’s going on within that community, and to understand the challenges community members encounter.
And, second, I believe it’s important to serve the external community and to foster relationships outside the College. For that reason, I’m involved in significant community work and serve on boards of other organizations where I think there are natural opportunities for synergy with Messiah’s mission.
For you, what are the highlights of these conversations? What have you learned?
I find it humbling to learn how much many students (and their families) sacrifice to be here. Some students work two and three jobs to pay their tuition bills. Others leave their families in poverty-stricken, war-torn countries and journey to Messiah, hoping to return to their homelands and serve as leaders who are engaged in peacemaking. The remarkable commitment of these students and their families really gives me hope for the future.
I’ve also been moved by the generosity of our benefactors. For example, one of our donors, who was raised by foster parents and never had the opportunity to go to college, gives generously to provide scholarship aid for students who can’t afford college tuition and fees. She gives anonymously and lives simply, not asking for recognition or accolades, but choosing to regularly invest in the lives of our students.
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