Roberts Enactus Team: We Have Spirit

This past week I had the privilege of spending time with the Roberts Wesleyan College Enactus Team (formerly known as SIFE).  What is Enactus? It is a wonderful community of student, academic and business leadership to use the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world.

The full Roberts Enactus team
The full Roberts Enactus team

I first met our Enactus team last year during one of my visits to campus as president-elect, when the team presented their Silver Medal performance for the Board of Trustees. I was impressed! This year, as the team returned to the national competition in St. Louis, I was excited to have an opportunity to join them there for their final day of competition.

Our team was amazing and made it to the quarter-final round. Their presentation this year focused on the innovative programs they have developed in the City of Rochester. What an accomplishment!!

The Enactus Presentation Team
The Enactus Presentation Team

The real story however is what I witnessed the last day. The true character of the Roberts Enactus team came after their elimination. The team was disappointed they didn’t make it farther, but despite the disappointment they began a diligent campaign to encourage others still competing. They were tweeting, talking, hugging, and serving the teams that were still in the competition. They stayed to cheer on the final four teams when many had left, prayed with one of our fellow Council of Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions who made the finals, and helped hand out their business plans to the judges. It was clear to me that they weren’t doing this for recognition, and I was reminded it is how we respond to disappointment that really defines our character, and how our plans are not always the Lord’s.

Then, an amazing thing began to happen: leadership from the Enactus organization sought out our team to encourage and thank them!  They weren’t the only ones; other teams thanked them for their work and impact during the week. It was impressive to see how the Lord encouraged them as they encouraged others. The highlight of the competition came when the students received the Spirit of Enactus Award!  (Pictured below).  I had to smile at how the Lord works – encouraging our students with an award that I believe speaks to their character.

The Roberts Enactus team as they won the Spirit Award


Each year, as part of the trip, Professor Carrie Starr, director of the program at Roberts, takes time to create a moment for our students, to thank them for their work and acknowledge the graduating seniors. To just be in the room during this special moment was a gift.  I heard about the impact of each senior and some of their journey in the program. It was a sacred moment. There is no way for me to recreate it in this blog, but let me say I was so moved by the effect that this program has had on the academic, personal, and spiritual lives of these students, I left with a desire for every Roberts student to have an opportunity for that kind of experience, in whatever program or activity they participate.

This is what an education at Roberts is about! We are in the business of educating, mentoring and disciplining our students so they can have a transformational experience that leaves them and those they touch with a deeper sense of the character of God.

If you want to see the video that won the Roberts Enactus team the Spirit of Enactus Award, you can watch below!

The Power of a Commute

During the Christmas holiday I had the opportunity to travel west to see family and friends. While there I found myself back on the familiar freeways I drove daily to get to and from work and was reminded of the commute.  When you think of commuting to work in Southern California what comes to mind first is traffic and attempting to avoid it at all cost.  But as I drove my old route I realized I missed the commute. Why?  Because the commute gave me space to think, to step away and to regroup before arriving at work in the morning or at home in the evening.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression – I wasn’t missing it so bad I wanted to move far from campus for a commute! But it did get me thinking. There is value in a commute. It allows opportunity to find space in your day. To prepare for or unwind from your day. It creates space. The power of the commute is space. Do you ever need space? Space for reflection, rest, and renewal. Space to create, imagine and vision.

I have been reading through the New Testament this year and I am amazed at how often Jesus goes to find space for prayer, reflection and rest. I bet he would have loved to have had a commute. Space for him to get ahead of the crowds that somehow found him each time.

If there is value in the commute then why do we struggle to add that time into our schedules each day unless we have to? What if we lived with some measure of commute time built into our lives?

As I think about our students, staff and faculty I can recognize the pace and load they carry each day and I am thankful. But I wonder how we are doing with our space quotient – our commute time. The time we move between one piece of our life to the next, one class to another, one conversation to another.

Life with commute space requires work. Maybe we need to add a little commute time to our lives? Join me in adding a little commute to your day. Cars not required!

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Call for Education for Character

Earlier this week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a country. As I reflect on the impact he made on the direction of our nation I am motivated by the power of how God moves through individuals to continually change this world.  King was a powerful role model and left a legacy for us to remember. One of the tools he used was the power of words.  King had an undeniable ability to speak with passion and directness that moved millions to create change.

Martin Luther King, Jr. monument. Picture taken by President of the CCCU Shirley Hoogstra while we were on a monument tour together in December.
Martin Luther King, Jr. monument. Picture taken by President of the CCCU Shirley Hoogstra while we were on a monument tour together in December.

One of the areas King wrote and spoke about was education.  In 1947 he wrote the article The Purpose of Education which was published in the Moorehouse College student paper, The Maroon Tiger. The article well articulates King’s passion for education and his belief that education is more than just acquiring intelligence. For King, the additional purpose of education is to build and develop character in the life of students:

“Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

How well this fits with our motto, Education for Character!  In his time, B.T. Roberts also influenced history by establishing a Christian institution.  Since 1866, Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary have actively reflected and promoted this idea.  Our 18,000 alumni have been, and continue to be, students educated for character who work and serve as agents of transformation in our culture.

Today we continue to build upon the foundations laid for us by Roberts, King and many others who have fought hard for the freedoms and the education of all peoples. May our thankfulness and remembrance be a call to action to continue to offer education that builds character, and impacts this world for the kingdom of Christ!


For Unto Us a Child is Born

As the first semester of the academic year comes to a close we focus on what it means to celebrate Christmas. Over a two day period this past week the faculty and staff of the college and seminary met at our home, and I shared a few simple thoughts focused on thankfulness and the celebration of the season.

Today I share with you part of the same blessing.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

–Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

Life at Roberts

Welcome to the new and revised blog!  We are moving from “Road to Roberts” to “Life at Roberts

It has been a wonderful journey of 5 months since arriving on campus this past July.  I am still in awe of God’s hand and his ability to move us not just across the country, but to a community that is dedicated to advancing Christian higher education and work within the world.  I thought I would kick off this new and revised blog with a highlight of some of what I shared at my Inauguration in September.  As people came together to be a part of the Inauguration and Homecoming event there was such an energy and excitement around where we are headed.  It was during the Inauguration that I shared three things the College and the Seminary will be known for.

The first is transformational experience.  Transformational experience is one that represents the change that takes place in the lives of students as we guide them through their education and show them ways to connect their minds, their hearts and their hands.  This integrated approach combines mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our journey into a life-changing experience.  At Roberts and Northeastern we believe that our society needs graduates who will take their breadth of knowledge and experience and engage in the world around them.

Second, we will be known for engaged service.  In 1866, during our founding, Chili Seminary was dedicated to prepare well-educated young people who could become the kind of servant leaders of high character which were needed greatly in America.  For the Roberts and Northeastern communities today, we know that we can and will be known for engaging in all areas – serving in a way that reflects the hope that we have and the difference that can be made in our world for Christ.  We will be known as institutions that will continue to meet the needs of those around us through engaged service.

Third, we will be known for innovative programs.  To answer the tough questions about access and affordability we will need to consider how we will meet the needs of students in today’s world.  Firmly committed to academic excellence, we will move forward with the development of innovative programs in all areas.  This means reviewing and launching new programs, exploring the needs of students locally and in the greater northeast region.  As we chart our course into the future years, we will intentionally and carefully extend our influence beyond the west side of Rochester.

As we move forward over these next years, these are the three areas we will be known for.   My hope and prayer is that as you read this, you will begin to get excited about the future of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary and take interest as we begin to lean into the future and develop ways in which we will make this difference.