The Mission is the Vision

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[dropcap3]H[/dropcap3]omecoming morning an alumnus pulled me aside and said he had come up the main drive and saw the new sign being built there. He said he pulled over and looked at it and then said to himself, “Now it’s set in stone – literally.” Then he told me he took the time right there to pray for the day and for the Cairn community. I told him he was a blessing and encouragement to us and thanked him for praying for us. I told him he was in for a good day. He caught me after the soccer game and said he did not have a good day: he had a great day. Two years ago we determined to recast Homecoming as an event that would bring together students, alumni, and the community. We also determined that 2011 and 2012 would be essential years in building momentum for our Centennial Homecoming in 2013. I think we succeeded on both counts. It was so good to see so many alumni and friends enjoying the day together. In my view there was good energy, a positive spirit, and very strong attendance. I spoke with quite a few alumni who are very excited about what we’re doing and looking forward to the future and what God will do in and through Cairn.

Board members Ed Brightbill, Elizabeth Mason Givens, Joe Kempf, and Steve Smith with the new stone sign. Between them, these Board members have over 140 years of service. Mrs. Givens, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Kempf represent second-generation involvement with the University, following in the footsteps of their parents.

A few weeks later, the Board convened its annual fall meetings. They arrived on campus the day the new stone sign was being finished on the corner beyond the pond. They joined students in chapel services, met in committees to attend to the business at hand, and talked together over a number of issues facing our students and the institution in these challenging yet potential-laden days. The Trustees discussed student debt loads, the rising costs of higher education, and how Cairn might respond to what is a nation-wide dilemma. They also discussed the next strategic plan that will be developed over the course of the next year and set the course for our entry into a second century of biblical higher education. The spirit of unity and optimism for the University was palpable. The Board of Trustees is a group of 20 godly men and women who give of their time, talent, and resources to further the work here. They each bring unique skills and perspective to the work of the Board but pool their collective wisdom to make decisions, some that are easier than others, some that are more controversial than others, but all that have the best interest of the students and the institution in view.

I thank God often for these servants and for the work of the past year that has been so significant. It has been a little over a full year since the Board met to discuss the vision for the University. It was a challenging year in many respects, but those discussions resulted in an enthusiastic affirmation of our core commitments, a coalescing around a singular and compelling vision, and some strategic decisions, many of which I have been writing about over the course of the year. Above all this, we agreed together that this University would maintain is central commitments to Christ and the Word by making it clear that “the mission is the vision” here. There are many new things to celebrate: new degrees, new First Year Programs, new opportunities for partnerships and service, and new challenges that will strengthen us and be used of God to further the work at Cairn. However, this mission holds and we are united in it. We send students out to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world. I trust what you read in this Winter issue of Cairn will help you see just how strongly the mission matters at Cairn University.[framed_box]Todd J. Williams, Ph.D., has been the President of Cairn University since January 2008. He served as faculty and an administrator from 1996 to 2001, and then returned as Provost in 2005. He can be reached by emailing