Members of the Board of Trustees, Honored Guests, Esteemed faculty colleagues, friends and family, I am honored at your presence. There are some occasions at which the most important thing one can say is, “Thank you.” For me, this is truly one of those occasions.
To the Board of Trustees, thank you for allowing me the great privilege of working with you. To our honored guests, thank you for sharing this occasion with our college community. To my esteemed faculty colleagues, thank you for making Nyack the wonderful place that it is. To the gentlemen who have served in this office before me, thank you for your leadership and for making a difference, not only in the life of this institution, but in my life personally. And finally to my family, thank you for your love… thank you for your support… and thank you for being God’s most precious gifts to me.
I want you all to picture a scene with me. It is only a handful of years into a new century. A college president stands before a great assembly, speaking on behalf of his school. With a voice that reflects the passion that is in his heart, the President shares his plan for the growth and development of the school. Driven by his intense longing to see this school fulfill its mission -- that President introduces a plan that is bold, even controversial in the minds of some.
In response to the mission that drives him and his school, he reaches a conclusion that is far more than an observation. It is his vision for the future of that school. And he does so with this statement. “A university alone can fill the demand. A university alone can fill the demand.”
With these words, a vision is cast, and a bold course is clearly charted. But it is a vision never fully realized. And it is a course never completed.
The year these words were spoken was 1904. The President who spoke them was Dr. Albert Benjamin Simpson. And the school he was speaking about was the Missionary Training Institute, later to become Nyack College.
Our founder’s vision was for his Missionary Training Institute to become a university. Simpson saw that only a university could adequately respond to the “demand” or the mission that was laid before it. That same mission lies before us this afternoon.
Obviously, Nyack is in some ways very different today than it was in 1904. When I use the name “Nyack” this afternoon, I use it in a representative, not a geographical sense. For this name envelops -- it depicts not only the Rockland undergraduate campus, but also the Alliance Theological Seminary, the undergraduate and graduate programs in Manhattan, the School of Adult and Distance Education and all of our satellite programs as well. Yes, in some ways, Nyack is a different school than it was in the days of Dr. Simpson.
But in many important regards Nyack today is quite similar to the Nyack described by A.B. Simpson in 1904. We know Dr. Simpson eagerly desired a seminary and it took another sixty years for this aspect of his vision to become a reality. We know that the entrepreneurial spirit in our founder would have embraced adult and distance education and distance learning. We know that his heart to “go” to where need was present would beat in harmony with our Manhattan, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Kiev and Ohio campuses. So in many ways, Nyack today is very much the Nyack that our founder envisioned over 125 years ago.
Most importantly, our mission is the same, and we share his heart to see Nyack become all that it must become to accomplish this mission.
It is time for Nyack to fulfill all of its founder’s vision.
This afternoon, with the help of many from our community, I want to highlight who Nyack is… and who we need to continue to be… if we are to fulfill all of A.B. Simpson’s vision.
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