Change is the only constant. It’s an old cliché. But the thing about clichés is that while overused, they are almost always true. Change has been an underlying theme for the last four years as we’ve established the new Alumni Association, and it is present as I reflect on my professional career to date. As I wrap up my time as Executive Director of the Alumni Association and Vice President for Alumni and Community Engagement, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited for my new professional challenge.
Thinking back to the fall of 2011, I see that so much has changed for our alumni community in these four short years. I could list the successes and point to how each is a measure of the advancement of the new Association. Indeed, the Association staff, board and volunteers have done a lot of heavy lifting to get us to where we are today. But it was during a recent trip that I realized just how far we’ve come and how well we’ve set ourselves up for many more years of growth.
In November, I travelled to Washington to visit three schools (and a handful of alumni). I visited Whitworth University, Whitmore College and Gonzaga University. I was on a fact-finding mission to learn how these very established institutions approached alumni relations, fund development and general constituent engagement. What I learned was surprising: With the exception of a handful of activities and programs, we—TWU and the Alumni Association—are doing the same things that these much older universities with substantial endowments are doing. In a few cases, alumni teams at these larger, American post-secondary institutions wanted to learn more about initiatives that we have prioritized. We are doing some things that they find enviable.
The TWU Alumni Way and the associated and emerging programming was of particular interest for them. My colleagues down south saw the value of our focus on calling alumni to live out the mission of Trinity Western. They were drawn to the fact that we see our association work as community building. Yes, we share the mandate of engaging alumni financially for the success of the University, but for the TWU Alumni Association, this is just one measure of commitment to Trinity Western—just one entry point through which alumni can count themselves part of the alumni community.
It’s not that we’ve arrived at our envisioned outcome. No, there are many years of work ahead if we are to fulfill the association’s vision of establishing “a vibrant community of engaged alumni impacting the life of the University.” The foundation is set, however, and the new Executive Director will be well-positioned to lead our community into this hoped-for reality. He or she will be successful with our help, and more change will come under this new leadership.
I’m leaving a great team of dedicated folks. My consolation is that the organization I am going to, Mennonite Central Committee B.C., has an outstanding reputation for its commitment to relief work, development and peace-making. This will certainly be a learning opportunity for me. As an alum and “an example of the University’s mission fulfilled” (TWU Alumni Association Purpose Statement), I have committed myself to “never stop learning” (TWU Alumni Way). I am moving on, but will continue to strive to be “a godly Christian leader in the marketplaces of life” (TWU Mission Statement).
There is more change ahead for the University as well. Speaking to alumni from each of the six decades of our school’s existence has shown me that much has changed over the last 50-plus years. The heart of the University has stayed constant and consistent, but its application and the perspectives of those who choose a TWU education have changed. I trust that future change will happen, in part, through consultation with alumni. So whether you believe some change is needed immediately or that the University needs to stay the course, you must choose to stay involved. The best way to do this is through the Alumni Association. I will choose to stay involved with TWU because I want to ensure that a Trinity Western education is available for my kids—that they will have the same opportunity to have a transformational experience as I did over two decades ago. For me, that means pushing for a TWU that is truly open to everyone wanting the same experience that TWU offered me.
Change is the only constant. Change is scary for some, and invigorating for others. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, I know that our good and gracious God will be with each of us as we seek to be the best expression of His kingdom come, either as individuals or as a learning community. With Him and empowered by my time at TWU first as a student and now a staff member, I’m committed to “bring the spark” (TWU Alumni Way) in a world in need of Christ’s truth, compassion, reconciliation and hope.