The life of Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary Director of Database Operations, Rick Santiago, who went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, August 17 was celebrated recently.
“Best all-around” sums up the well-lived life of Rick Santiago. A devoted husband and father. A loving pastor. An anointed worship leader. A hard-working employee. A mentoring educator. A diligent scholar. A contemporary Christian recording artist. A faithful friend. He served in all of those roles with such love and grace.
Rick was an outstanding presenter on many topics from leadership to ministry to technology. He earned both his bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry and a master’s degree in organizational leadership at Nyack College. Not long after completing his graduate degree, he began teaching in Nyack’s School of Business and Leadership. He was also a member of the faculty and staff chapel worship team.
His tenure as a Nyack employee began in 1995 in the Office of Admissions as a counselor. Most recently he was the Director of Database Operations. In 2011, for consistently embodying Nyack’s core values, Rick Santiago was presented with the Commitment to Mission Award at the annual year end faculty/staff luncheon. He has left an unforgettable legacy in the Nyack campus community.
Please keep Rick's wife Joy, daughters Xelena and Xylvie, family, colleagues and friends in prayer.
The following are tributes from Nyack College/ATS President Michael Scales and other campus colleagues who will remember him fondly.
Rick Santiago was one of the most impressive people I've ever met. He had it all. Being Rick, without fail, he would give God all the credit for everything he had and everything he was. Some of it was, indeed, given to him at birth. He was handsome, smart and seemed athletic. Some of what he had was earned by hard work—which he invariably would say God expects that of us. His exceptional work ethic always helped him to enhance his God-given abilities. He was never satisfied to settle for the acceptable. He was always seeking to improve.
When my dear friend Miguel Sanchez was the Director of Admissions for Nyack College and I had the honor of working with him, one of his early hires in 1995 was a young Nyack graduate, Rick Santiago. He struggled some in the beginning as an admissions counselor and he felt his struggles deeply; but he never gave up. He sought help, asked questions, worked hard and eventually became a standout counselor.
I watched this process repeat itself. Through the years, other roles came his way at Nyack. He worked hard and was always successful. He learned his jobs and his roles well. He was continuously learning and improving. Rick was highly competent at whatever he pursued.
His ability to understand technology was outstanding. So were his communication skills, both in English and Spanish. To understand the intricacies of technology and to communicate these complexities in a way that others could understand made him a unique individual indeed.
Rick was extremely caring and wanted everyone to succeed. In turn, everyone wanted him to succeed. He never criticized people or engaged in gossip, which earned him such respect that people wouldn’t gossip around him, not wanting to offend or disappoint Rick.
Anyone who knew Rick knew that he was a deeply spiritual man. His character and integrity were unassailable. When adversity strikes, that is when you will see a person’s substance. During the time that we watched his physical condition deteriorate, he blessed God and all those around him.
Oh, how Rick loved! There was such a loving presence about him. By simply being Rick Santiago, he made all of us better and we wanted to be better because of him. While he loved us well, his love for his wife, Joy, their daughters and his family was unmatched.
Through the years, I was always afraid that Rick might leave Nyack to go to another organization. He was so talented and so together, I knew others would eagerly seek him out. Rick, however, felt his mission was here at our venerable institution. He felt he was called on behalf of our great cause. Even though others tried to attract him, he never left.
Now, he received a different call. He didn't leave us. Rick was called away by the only One Rick would follow over us.
My prayers are with Joy and their beautiful family. My prayers are for us, too. May we all embrace the model citizen that Rick was in our community. Even more importantly, may we honor his memory by remembering him as a model of what it means to follow Jesus.
Dr. Michael G. Scales
Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary
Rick Santiago was an amazingly versatile and gifted servant of God. His love for God’s Word, love for his family and his hunger to change lives and empower others was always evident.
Anytime we shared ideas about reaching young people in New York City for Nyack College, he would light up, become totally energized. While we enjoyed his singing, teaching, preaching and ministering, it was remarkable to discover that he also had a fantastic aptitude for technology.
His peaceful, single-mindedness and calm composure so present when he listened to you, made you believe every situation could get better and no obstacle was too big to overcome. You felt the genuineness of his laughter in your spirit.
From the time they were dating, every moment they were in each other’s presence it was clear Rick believed Joy was a treasure sent to him from God; and he showered his beautiful daughters Xelena and Xylvie with the same deep love and reverence. He was in every way a role model for me, as a husband, father, minister, thinker, and most importantly, as a servant. He was like a shining star among us. We know he is leading worship now in God’s presence.
Prof. Miguel Sanchez
Assistant Professor of
In Information Technology, providing connections to what people need is our bottom line. Rick Santiago followed the example of Jesus—not only humbly connecting people to what they needed in training or in their understanding of Nyack’s information systems—but he had a genuine interest in what they needed for their souls. A concern for a person’s relationship with Jesus was his default setting.
Even though Rick worked massive hours late at night to make sure the faculty, staff and students had what they needed to be successful, all that effort all pales in comparison to his passion to connect people to Jesus. We are all better people for having known him.
Director of Information Technology
Rick Santiago entered the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program with a strong commitment to learn and understand how to make a positive difference in his job, his church and his community.
There are so many uplifting memories that this extraordinary 2007 graduate leaves behind. The contributions he made to Nyack College and to the MSOL program are truly a part of his legacy that we proudly honor.
Rick was consistently a high achiever in the MSOL program, which meant being a good steward of his time—balancing his commitment to his beautiful family, his church, his full-time job and his studies. He did all of that well, and still carved out time to help any classmate in Cohort 6 who was in need of peer support. Even after he graduated, he made himself available to teach classes, assist with our student orientation and provide suggestions for program enhancement.
His thesis topic was “The Relationship Between Sense of Belonging and Sense of Community in a Local Church.” In the decade of the program’s existence, Rick’s commitment to excellence was the standard bearer for MSOL cohorts. It was difficult not to mention his name to students each year.
As his former professor and dean of the School of Business and Leadership, I am blessed by the opportunity that I had to know and to work with this leader among leaders. Rick Santiago was proof that “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” (Proverbs 18:16, NKJV)
Dr. Anita Underwood
School of Business and Leadership