What it Means to Truly Be Known

We celebrated the end of our spring semester this year with a first – the first outdoor graduation ceremony drenched by spring rain! It led to real innovation by students as they experimented with a variety of ways to use a rain poncho to keep as dry as possible (see photo on page 47).

In spite of extremely wet clothes and the cool, damp air, we joyously celebrated what was a big day for students, parents and family. We exist for students, and it is our passion to make Christ known to each one and to prepare them for their life calling. It is this purpose that constantly motivates the faculty and staff who choose to serve at George Fox University. 

After graduation, I left for 21 days as co-leader of a Juniors Abroad trip, along with history professor Mark Weinert and 22 students. This year nearly 300 students took part in these study abroad trips, led by faculty mentors, to 14 different locations around the globe. The trip Mark and I led took students on a journey through Ireland and England. In addition to experiencing the natural beauty and culture of these countries, we introduced students to Celtic Christianity and the life and works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. 

As president, it is often difficult for me to take three weeks out of my regular schedule to engage with students on a study abroad trip. Now that I am back, I must admit that taking this trip was one of the most important things I have done over the past several years at George Fox. Living with students, day in and day out for 21 days, creates a sense of camaraderie that few other experiences can. 

Riding on buses together to various cities and sites gave us the opportunity to talk together about family, experiences and future dreams. I discovered that some students came to George Fox because they clearly believed God had a place for them here. Others tried the state university route, felt lost and wanted to come to a place where someone would know their name and story. There were students who wanted to be writers, business leaders, teachers, marketers, and one aspiring to be a nurse (whose services we needed at one point!).

Some were vocal, others quiet. We had debaters, singers and athletes. We ate and worshipped together. I learned that each student had a family story that set them apart, had been uniquely gifted by God, and had a vision for their future. It was sheer joy to get to know them not just through brief conversations on the quad, but personally and deeply.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” At George Fox, the staff and faculty live to know students and to engage with them in their disciplines and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our goal to develop relationships with the students we serve as we navigate this world together.

In this issue of the Journal you will read about several George Fox professors who make our university’s Be Known promise real on a daily basis by seeking to know students in meaningful ways – to encourage, mentor and challenge them to find their calling and live an exceptional life. It is a privilege to serve God’s mission here. 

Robin Baker
President