Wisdom from Snoopy

column-trinity

A time nears to say goodbye

Snoopy, the delightful cartoon character of Charles Schulz, once made this observation: “Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.”

It turns out that I’m doing what Snoopy predicts. I will be leaving Trinity’s presidency the end of next month because I’ve been nominated to be the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

While I anticipate offering the community a couple of columns before departure, today I’d like to make three observations from Snoopy’s keen insight.

First, when Snoopy asks why we don’t gather together as people we like and enjoy, he is really defining community. I’ve been privileged to be part of two significant communities during these 11 years as Trinity’s president—the Palos Heights community and the Trinity community.

I remember fondly my now deceased neighbor, Joe McGee, who opened the doors of the Palos Heights community to me, helping create the Palos Area Community Advisory Board to ensure good college-community communication. Joe’s vision, that Palos Heights would become a college town, continues to emerge in the many interlocking relationships Trinity has with the city, with Lake Katherine, and with groups such as the League of Women Voters, Palos Fine Arts, and others—truly, good people who work well and should stay together.

The other community, Trinity’s community, is second to none, composed of students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends. Being part of an academic community is enriching, bringing all sorts of opportunities through speakers, exhibits and concerts via the WorldView series and other modes. Moreover, being part of an academic community, by necessity, focuses on students—and Trinity students have given me purpose and enjoyment each and every day.

Snoopy’s second observation is one that I echo and I suspect all of us share: I hate goodbyes. In our digital world, one wonders if saying goodbye is necessary. Facebook friends remain, regardless of physical geography. But lest we confuse our virtual worlds with our actual worlds, saying goodbye is required even if we dislike doing so. For, I believe, when departure is certain, saying goodbye allows friendship to continue in healthy ways. I look forward to maintaining friendships here, both virtually and by means of visits as a Trinity parent.

Third, Snoopy suggests we need more hellos. Indeed! Being part of Trinity’s community has helped me to understand that even though a group of students graduates each spring, we get to say hello to an entering class each fall. Every time I’ve welcomed new freshmen, I’ve been energized by their excitement, dreams, and hopes. Snoopy knows the important, invigorating role hellos provide a community, and I believe Trinity will now experience the same excitement facing a new future.

Speaking of hellos, please join me in saying hello to Dr. Liz Rudenga, who will begin serving as Trinity’s interim president on June 1. As provost for the past 14 years, her service as the chief academic officer of Trinity makes her well-known and well-respected within the Trinity community. In the coming weeks and months, I trust you will come to know her well and appreciate the blessing she will be in her new role to both the college and the community I have come to cherish! Hello, Dr. Rudenga!

Dr. Steve Timmermans, Ph.D., is the president of Trinity Christian College.

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