A president with a mission
|In planning for the future, President Phipps hopes to work with students, educators, faculty, and staff to build a shared vision for the College.
In the coming year, what are your highest priorities for the College?
One of our first priorities is to develop an effective response to the external pressures and challenges I’ve just described.
Another priority is to communicate Messiah College’s educational distinctives and accomplishments to local, regional, and national audiences. On an operational level, an increased national profile could open the possibility of new markets for student enrollment and potential relationships with new benefactors and friends who share our vision. On a more philosophical level, I sincerely believe that the nation, the Church, and the academy need to hear Messiah’s voice. We are committed to modeling a community of compassion, character, and civility, and we are committed to preparing our graduates to contribute to the 21st-century culture in positive ways. So much of the national conversation—even in the Church—is polarizing and divisive, and Messiah strives to model another way—a way that demonstrates the need to listen and dialogue with people, even those with whom we disagree.
Our third priority is to work together as a community to build a shared vision for the future, a vision which includes the investment in what we are doing well while seeking to fulfill our mission in new venues and contexts. For Messiah, this will likely include the development of some select graduate programs and enhanced summer school opportunities, as well as continued commitment to providing students with experiential learning opportunities and a comprehensive curriculum.
What do you enjoy most about your interactions with college students?
From the time I was a young child, I wanted to be a teacher. I loved school. I have an older brother and a younger brother, and I’d always urge them to play school when we were young. From the first day that I began to teach a few college classes as a graduate student, I knew that I’d be involved in educating college students for the rest of my life. Sure enough, when I received my first scholarship as a doctoral student and went on to teach at a college full time, I found it incredibly rewarding.
It is truly a privilege to be a part of students’ lives during what we call “the critical years,” from ages 18 to 24, when they’re asking important questions about the meaning and purpose of life. The energy and enthusiasm of this age group—their interest in the world around them and their passion for serving others—is very infectious! You can’t become discouraged about the state of the world when you’re around college students, and particularly Messiah College students, because they believe they are called by God to make a difference.
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