Westmont Magazine Goodbye, Gaede
Remarks by Trustee Walter Hansen at a dinner honoring the Gaedes
Stan and Judy, our Lord Jesus Christ promised you, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
The promise of Jesus helps us to see this farewell from the divine perspective. We are reassured by this promise that behind all your decisions as president and all our decisions as trustees there is ultimately the decision, the choice of our Lord Jesus. He chose you and appointed you to be the president of Westmont. He chose you and called you to go. And we are reassured by our Lord’s promise that the fruit of your work here will last and that you will go forth and bear fruit that will last.
One way to measure the fruit of your work is by numbers. Look at the increase in annual giving, alumni giving, and endowment. (Annual fund gifts increased from $1.8 to $2.5 million. Alumni giving rate increased from 34 to 37 percent. Applications increased over 33 percent from 1,563 to 2,094. Diversity of the freshmen class increased 86 percent from 14 to 26 percent. Endowment grew 288 percent from $17 to 66 million.)
These numbers represent solid accomplishments, the fruit of your work. Of course you will say, “I don’t take credit for those numbers. That represents the work of the great team working with me.” That’s an appropriate response, a very presidential response. You have, after all, led the team that accomplished such solid growth. These numbers are significant, indisputable evidence of your successful leadership during your tenure. But numbers are not the most important measure of the fruit of your work.
A second way to measure the fruit of your work is to look at your prodigious literary output. You have written and delivered hundreds of chapel talks, speeches on and off campus, articles, letters and several books in your work as provost and president at Westmont. You have led us — students, faculty, trustees, the wider community, all of us — by your words. Students remember your Christian T-shirt chapel talk and tell me about it. A friend gives me your book, “An Incomplete Guide to the Rest of Your Life, and says, “Read it, it’s full of fascinating stories and good common sense.” I have read it and enjoyed it.
You have an exceptional gift for taking everyday experiences of life and turning them into parables that reach my heart and guide my life. You may want to read your own book now, by the way. It seems especially appropriate at this point in your life. By these words, these literary works, you have successfully fulfilled your responsibility as president to lead our college. But counting your words — as eloquent and effective as they are — is not the most important way to measure the fruit of your work.
A third way to measure the fruit of your work is to observe the significant projects you have initiated. One of your most significant accomplishments is the founding of the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont. Already Westmont has hosted six annual conferences and a summer workshop. The interaction at these conferences and the papers published in the Journal of the Liberal Arts are truly phenomenal and will have a far-reaching influence in the larger world of liberal arts education. You have put Westmont in a leadership role of forming and guiding liberal arts education.
Let me say here that you personally embody the meaning of liberal arts education. Eva Brann in her paper says that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to encourage thoughtfulness. You embody thoughtfulness in both senses of that word: 1) thoughtfulness is the character quality of being considerate, treating people in a kind and considerate way, especially by anticipating their wants and needs; 2) thoughtfulness is the intellectual skill of showing the application of careful thought.
You are the quintessential gentleman: always considerate, appropriate and kind. And your thoughts are profound and provocative. You stimulate others to think more deeply by your words and your life. Nic Wolterstorff defines liberal arts education as that enterprise that engages and enlarges those dimensions of our life that make us truly human. Because of your guiding presence in our lives, we are learning to be more human in the ways that we interpret life, imagine new possibilities and enjoy the good gifts of God’s creation. But as much as I value your brilliant initiative in founding the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont, I do not think it’s your most significant accomplishment.
The most important fruit of your work here and the fruit that will remain when all else has passed away is the fruit of the relationships that you have formed and nurtured here. If we had time to look at the context of the promise that Jesus gave, we would find that the dominant theme in that section of John’s gospel is the command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus talked of his love in terms of friendship love in the immediate context when he said, “I call you my friends.” So when Jesus talked about fruit he was talking about the fruit of love, the friendship love modeled and demonstrated by Him.
You, Stan and Judy, have loved us as friends; you have loved us as Jesus loves us. You have opened your hearts and your home to us. And here, Judy, I address you alongside of Stan because that is where you are, right by Stan’s side; well, sometimes you are ahead of him. Your beautiful blue eyes see the beautiful strengths in others and you quickly affirm them; you see the needs of others and you organize whole banquets and feasts to serve them.
The most endearing and enduring fruit of your work is your ability to draw us into a growing friendship with you, with others and with Christ. As we grow in our friendship with you, we are always growing in our friendship with Christ because of your Christ-centered, Christ-honoring lives. Your life fulfills the motto of Westmont: Christus Primatum Tenens. When time and eternity removes everything else, the fruit that remains forever will be our friendships formed in Christ.
For this reason we say in the words of Paul, “I thank my God every time I remember you; I’m filled with joyful gratitude because of your friendship in the gospel.” Stan and Judy, your friendship is one of God’s best gifts to us. We will cherish this gift for years to come and for all eternity.
Tributes to Stan
“I have worked closely with Stan since his arrival at Westmont in 1996 as our first provost. He is one of the most consistent people I know. He cares deeply about the liberal arts tradition, evidenced most particularly in his founding of the Liberal Arts Institute at Westmont that now bears his name. He believes that God called this tradition into being — and that it is best practiced within the Christian context — where Jesus Christ is both the foundation and the ultimate goal of our learning and of our quest for wholeness. Finally, he believes in community, certainly as an ideal, but also in the day-to-day, lived-out reality of working together. He wants people to work together well and to care about each other deeply. It is this set of commitments that Stan has lived out among us for 10 years — and to which he has invited us as a community. We are a different community than when Stan came to us. We have a clearer sense of who we are and of what we ought to care about. In short, we are a different place in exactly the ways that Stan invited us to be different. To make that kind of impact in only 10 years is nothing short of amazing. ”
— Shirley Mullen, Chair of the Search Committee that brought Stan, his Vice-Provost and his Provost
“Stan is a marvelous representative of Westmont, for he embodies in his life and thinking the essence of the Christian liberal arts. He is unapologetic about his personal faith in Christ and is a fan of liberal arts education. I have never known anyone better at communicating the nature of the liberal arts.
“He is one of the finest communicators to college students that I have ever known. His chapel talks frequently brought tears to my eyes. They were thoughtful, honest, and inspiring. Our students loved him and, I believe, were deeply influenced for good by his influence.
“He is just a very good person, deeply good. His character is beyond reproach — he is someone you never have to question or doubt. He and his wife are a marvelous example of a strong and winsome Christian marriage.
“His leadership style was quiet and modest, but what he modeled for our entire community was godly and significant. This sort of influence will last a long time.”
— Chancellor David Winter