One of the first projects I tackled upon becoming University Archivist was to compile a book about the office of the presidency. The research was fascinating. I learned quite a bit about the history of our institution (a good thing since an archivist is oft times expected to be a historian). For the first several years, the president’s office changed hands frequently. The school struggled with its identity as financial burdens tugged at its coattails. The president was expected to have all the answers, do all the work and fit the ideals set forth by the board. Still, the need for ‘Education With A Christian Purpose’ was vital to many; the mission held firm and God blessed the endeavors.
The book ‘Olivet Presidents–A History of the Office of the President’ gives a brief look at each man that has held the title according to the chronological year(s) they served. Some of them have just a mention and a few, not even a photo. Others have more information (as available) and we see more of their personal side.
As I put this book together I wondered, ‘What life experiences contributed towards making these men President of Olivet? Did any of them plan to become a university president? What events led them into the office?’ Nowadays, there are web sites to help one prepare for the job. Here’s an excerpt from one site that I found: * You’ll need to have excessive amounts (of) physical, intellectual and emotional stamina, the ability to stay composed in the face of tremendous pressure, the courage to make unpopular decisions, and skin thick enough to stand by them. If you’re interested in meeting hundreds of interesting people, promoting big ideas, and affecting the lives and futures of countless students, then this will be more of a calling than a career choice. Hmmm….more of a calling than a career choice. Most of Olivet’s presidents have been ‘called’.
As you read the book, my hope is that you’ll consider your own, individual calling. (To read the book online, visit Digital Commons)