{CAMPUS TODAY} at Roberts

Q & A with President John A. Martin

You’ve said that stepping down from the presidency “makes sense from a strategic perspective.” Can you elaborate on that? How is a change in top-level leadership good for the College and Seminary?

Kathryn and I feel that now is a good time to wrap up our service at Roberts and Northeastern, since I will be finishing my third four-year term as president. Because we have made such great strides, have charted the path forward with a new Strategic Plan, and are well on our way with the Legacy 150 Campaign, I feel that there can be a smooth transition for both the College and Seminary. I have been the beneficiary of being able to build on the work of those who had this office before me. I am confident that our next leader will bring new vision and skills to this important task.

What are some of the most significant changes you have seen in higher education in the past decade ?

Colleges and universities need to be nimble to stay with the curve, especially in the technological changes that have revolutionized our world and continue to change our operating paradigms. One of our significant challenges is to figure out how to be as cost-effective as possible while continuing to build our reputation as premier institutions for Christian higher education. Although costs continue to escalate, I tell prospective students and parents that the cost of not going to college far outweighs the cost of going to college.

What have been some high points for you personally as president of RWC and NES?

Every year at the commencements of Roberts and Northeastern, I marvel at the opportunity that I have to be a part of the process that allows women and men to secure such a fine education. Each year is a highlight. Other highpoints have included the dedications of the Golisano Library, Carpenter Hall and especially the Hastings Center for Academics. I enjoy working closely with my dear friends, the cabinet officers. A personal family highlight is that my son, Kyle, has both a baccalaureate degree and a master’s degree from Roberts Wesleyan College.

What has been most challenging?

Undoubtedly, the most challenging aspect of my job in the past six years has been the multifaceted change in our culture and economy. Attitudes toward higher education have fractured in many people’s minds, the economy has been difficult for many college-bound students, and uncertainty abounds in many areas. In the midst of this, it is important to keep an optimistic outlook not only because God is ultimately in control, but because I firmly believe that our culture will get through this rough spot and come out in a better place.

What goals do you have for the next few months before you leave?

My number one goal is to get as far along funding our Legacy 150 Capital Campaign as we possibly can. I would love to have the science and nursing building underwritten so that my successor can begin the term of service and get credit for building a wonderful new and important academic space. Also, I am beginning to prepare the campus for our 150th year of service, with our 150th birthday party in September 2016!

What are your plans? Where will you go from here?

This fall, Kathryn and I will be making some decisions about what our next appointment will be. Ultimately, we will end up in our home in Dallas, Texas — Kathryn’s place of birth and my adopted hometown. But the move to Dallas may be delayed by quite a few years because of some other opportunities of service that are presenting themselves to us. When we married, we never expected to live in Kansas and New York. The next place may surprise some people, too!

In what ways will the new science and nursing center most benefit our students?

This building is essential for the growth and development of Roberts Wesleyan College and, ultimately, Northeastern Seminary, since a strong college generates a strong seminary. It will give us needed space for our current programs, as well as provide important opportunities for enhancing our curriculum. Because science is a core requirement for an educated person, almost every undergraduate student and many graduate students will study and learn in this new structure, as well as in the totally refurbished Smith Science Center. I think our track record in refurbishing buildings is good. One only needs to look at Carpenter Hall, Cox Hall, the Voller Athletic Center, Roberts Hall, Miner Hall and the Hastings Center to see examples of older buildings that are now sustainable, beautiful and wonderful spaces for learning and living.

What advice would you give the next president of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary?

There are a number of things I would say:

  • Be prepared to enjoy great relationships.
  • Enjoy the “little successes” and things that no one else knows about as much as the “big public successes.”
  • Get close to the people who report to you — love them.
  • Revel in the accomplishments of alumni, students, staff and faculty.
  • Immerse yourself in the history of the College and Seminary — appreciate those who served on this campus both recently and many years ago.
  • Know that you won’t be the last president of the College and Seminary — you are holding the office “in trust” for those who will come after you.
  • Take pleasure in your work.
  • At the end of your term of service, know that God chose you to be at Roberts and Northeastern for that specific time!
  • Visit www.roberts.edu/RobertsToday for the President’s perspective on creative learning.