Today, I announced to the faculty and staff that I would be stepping down from the presidency of Multnomah University. On June 1, I will have completed 16 years in this office, and I will preface my remarks by saying that these sixteen years have, for the most part, been the most wonderful years that Jani and I have ever experienced. I love my job. That is why this announcement is truly a bitter-sweet moment for us.
I am planning to retire from the presidency on June 30, 2014, one year from next month. There are several reasons which have led to my making this announcement today, following yesterday’s board meeting.
But first, some background. I have always wanted to step down from this office while I was still effective at it. The idea of staying in my role longer than I should, with people wondering when a tottering and doddering Dan Lockwood would finally hand the reins over to someone else, was something I deeply wished to avoid. So, for that reason, Jani and I prayerfully considered my retirement the year I turned 66. Since my 66th birthday would be in September 2014, we thought that continuing to serve as president during that year (thus, retiring the end of June 2015) would give the board of trustees a full year to search for my successor. Because the idea of “retiring from ministry” was never what I had in mind, we also considered ways I might continue to serve Multnomah, perhaps by teaching in the seminary or serving in some other “ambassadorial” role for the institution.
The fact that I have had cancer since 2004 prompted me to explain our plan to the board of trustees almost two years ago. I continued to have no symptoms from either my cancer or from my chemotherapy infusions, and was able to fulfill my presidential responsibilities and live a very normal life with plenty of energy. But I felt full disclosure on this issue was imperative.
Last September, the board decided that it was urgent to seek a new president. In effect, they shortened my retirement plan by one year and began to set into motion the machinery for a search committee. In yesterday’s board meeting, the board reaffirmed their September decision and approved the launch of the search committee. Also, a week prior to yesterday’s board meeting, an announcement was made from the pulpit in an area church that Multnomah was searching for a new president. The cat was out of the bag. I had no choice but to announce my retirement immediately.
I will continue to lead the institution as best as I can for the next year while the search committee does its work. After sixteen years, I am feeling, as one seminary president put it, the “burden of accumulated grievances.” My effectiveness is at an end, I know. My greatest desire is to finish well. As another told me, “you will leave with scars; just don’t leave with a limp!”
But I cannot overemphasize how much the years serving as Multnomah’s president has meant to both of us, how much it has enriched our lives. As I’ve said many times, one of the things I wanted to avoid at all costs when I came to Multnomah was any administrative involvement. That God opened this door, instilled in me otherwise unknown desires, and granted me some measure of success is only a tribute to his marvelous grace.
So, let me conclude with an thank-you to faculty, staff, and my administrative team.
Faculty, it has been a pleasure serving with you and teaching with you. Down deep, I still believe my essential identity is not that of an administrator or even president, but of a faculty member who teaches biblical truth and doctrinal truth to eager students. The impact you continue to have on students not only in the classroom but out of the classroom is immeasurable.
Staff, your commitment to the mission and vision of Multnomah inspires me. Many of you could secure positions in other institutions or corporations for higher compensation. But you choose to serve here. I believe we have one of the most competent, professional, and mission-minded group of staff members of any institution I know. You are a tremendous example to me.
And President’s council, and in particular the members of my President’s Executive team, I thank you for being an incredible support. We have faced some difficult challenges together, and they are not over. We have achieved some amazing victories, and I believe there are more to come. As different as we are, we have learned to trust one another for the good of Multnomah. I would trust you with my life.
I love this place! I love you! Jani and I appreciate your prayers for us as we navigate this final year. But above all, my dear friends, pray for Multnomah!
Soli Gloria Dei
May 14, 2013