The Relational Giants of Central College

I love a good story, which is why I like to spend time with Central College alumni. You are the best storytellers. The tales you tell about your experiences at the college are very personal and deeply meaningful. While you make reference to various places, programs, events and activities associated with the college, inevitably your stories are reflections about people.

I often tell prospective students that one thing our alumni have taught me about the uniqueness of the Central experience is that this is a place where you develop a strong sense of belonging.

We sometimes refer to our campus as a place where we nurture a network of caring relationships. Students interested in Central are looking for an academic community where they can belong and thrive in all aspects of the educational and developmental journey. What they eventually realize is that the experience they seek is rooted in relationships that will endure.

The names are familiar to generations of Central alumni … Huffman … Brunsting … Mills … Schipper … Butler … Bosch … Martin … Hinga … Graham … Vruwink … Willis … and the list goes on and on and on. Before you read further, I would encourage you to write down the names of those who have had an enduring impact on your life and reflect on the reasons you have for listing them.

Central’s 1981 English faculty included Jonathan Pierce, Mildred Steele, Maxine Huffman, Mary Stark and Jim Graham.

Central’s 1981 English faculty included (L-R) Jonathan Pierce, Mildred Steele, Maxine Huffman, Mary Stark and Jim Graham.

What you may realize is that some of the names you have listed are those you rarely encountered after graduation. Yet they have endured as voices in your mind when you faced opportunities and challenges along they way. Their influence may have surfaced in your continuing or professional journey as you reference an insight offered years ago. Conversations of the past echo in your thoughts as you remember how a word of caution or encouragement helped to shape your thinking. These people are the giants of relationship for Central College.

When we invite new faculty and staff colleagues to join the college community today, I can see a continuity that reaches back through time. The expectations when we hire are deeply rooted in the values and traditions of the past. For instance, the ideal that tells us we value teaching as the essential measure of faculty excellence. The commitment to student-athletes that reminds us we care about much more than wins and losses on the field of competition and see clearly the preparation for life our coaches emphasize. The engagement of students in co-curricular activities that guide personal and professional development and continues to be a high priority as we see the student as a whole person.

Today we stand on the shoulders of relational giants. Our calling is to become the giants for the next generation.

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