Westmont Magazine A Time to Relinquish
Some time ago, a valued and wise friend told Helene and me that for him, retirement was all about “relinquishing.” He and his wife had moved into a smaller place so they relinquished many of their material possessions. He talked about relinquishing his sphere of influence after having a long and distinguished career.
His words have new meaning now, after our decision to retire from the presidency in June 2001. I will have completed 25 years in this role at Westmont. It is hard for me to imagine where the years have gone. So as Helene and I reflect on our friend’s words, and on what retirement “feels like,” the word “relinquish” is beginning to fit.
We relinquish the marvelous privilege we have had over these years to serve with all of you, the faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of the college, and our marvelous students. Having students stop by my office has always been a source of great pleasure for me. I hope the students knew that. I will forever be thankful to the Lord for this privilege.
We relinquish the joy and satisfaction of working with the finest board of trustees that any president and spouse could have. What an extraordinary group of people they are. How we treasure the memories we have of them as co-workers and as friends.
I relinquish the most challenging and rewarding career I could have ever imagined. We have felt great pride in the college as we have participated in the Santa Barbara community, or at professional meetings nationally. There is no institution in the world that we would rather serve.
Of course we will relinquish the “president’s home,” with its openness and light. We love its campus location. We know that the next family to occupy it will find the same joy that we did in living and working here.
Webster says that “relinquish” suggests giving up something desirable or prized unwillingly and regretfully. Certainly we do not leave here unwillingly or regretfully. However, I would be less than honest if I said that this giving up, this relinquishing, is not at times difficult. Change is always hard. Certainly that has been true as I relinquished my eyesight a little over two years ago. But alongside that has come great good and marvelous blessing. And so we know that not only is leaving the college at this time good for us, it is good for the college as well.
The years ahead will be particularly rewarding ones. I feel we are just on the verge of “taking off” as a college, with greater national reputation and distinction. Our base is secure. We know who we are and our constituency has confidence in our mission and our integrity. Our faculty and our students are truly exceptional. Our campus is becoming one of the most beautiful in the country. Our location in Santa Barbara is almost perfect. I must admit I sometimes wish Helene and I were just arriving at the college, instead of leaving it!
However, we have deep peace about our decision. These have been years of inestimable joy, and so we begin the process of relinquishing our role and place here with a sense of deep gratitude that goes beyond expression.
And this one thing we do know: God’s plans for us are good and God’s plans for Westmont College are good.