2021-22 academic year kicks off with vision-casting at annual employee event.
On Aug. 26, Dr. Gregg Chenoweth '90, with his wife Tammy (Salyer) '89, hosted the annual President’s Dinner for Faculty and Staff in Chalfant Hall on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University.
Dr. Jay Martinson '86, dean of online learning for undergraduate students, served as the master of ceremonies throughout the evening.
The event featured faculty musicians, Dr. Paul Kenyon, Robert Evans and Stephanie Lupo, and the student ministry team City on a Hill.
The pervasive theme of the dinner was “insight,” which was reflected in everything from the table set-up and décor to the curated playlist of songs that pertained to eyes or vision. In his remarks to the attendees, Dr. Chenoweth encouraged everyone in attendance to seek to tap into the discernment that is available through the Holy Spirit.
“God did not only give us eyes to see and ears to hear, but provides to every Believer who lives in alignment with God, His Spirit, which the Apostle Paul says offers us a ‘competence’ of discernment (II Cor. 3:5), to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16), or live lives of continual, perceptive discernment for the immaterial realities of life. Such a person lives a lifestyle habituated toward asking the Holy Spirit, in real time circumstances, what He is revealing, in our ministry to others. … Here is what I’m saying: The Holy Spirit is a freight train of insight to the most consequential realities of our lives. He awaits us, while we learn to dial into His frequency.”
Special alumni guests included Dr. Tayler (St. Aubin) Peachey '11, a local ophthalmologist, and Connie Panagakis, an online School of Graduate and Continuing Studies student who provided the benediction for the evening.
Tom Ascher '08/'17 MBA, director of human resources, acknowledged milestone accomplishments of faculty and staff during the event, and Dr. Dan Sharda and Kyle Olney were honored as the 2021 Faculty Member of the Year and 2021 Staff Member of the Year.
When Olivet had to make drastic changes to academic and student life operations last year, Dr. Dan Sharda was frequently consulted by various COVID-19 task forces. His academic background in immunology, epidemiology and virology gave him technical understanding of preliminary reports on the spread of COVID-19.
“I could read the primary papers and peer-reviewed scientific research and interpret the data. I knew when the pandemic started, that I would need to step in and help where I could.”
Despite normally having the summers off as a contracted faculty member, Dan continued in that advisory capacity throughout the summer; providing invaluable insight and advice for how to safely transition Olivet’s operations to provide a robust campus environment.
“I was first tasked with other faculty to determine how to maintain educational excellence during a pandemic, but eventually transitioned my thinking into how to manage a pandemic. The priority was to preserve unity in the mess and still do education really well despite all the handicaps placed on us.”
During the pandemic, Dan also assumed the position of department chair. Additionally, he became the resident expert on the virus and frequent “face and voice of reason” for relevant messaging filmed for and circulated to students throughout the year.
“The pandemic, especially when we went online in spring 2020, made me realize that I had been taking what I do for granted. Learning to adapt and adjust learning environments reignited my purpose to intentionally engage and teach students about God’s creation so we can all hopefully see a fuller view of who we are, regardless of our external circumstances.”
No stranger to the Olivet community, Kyle Olney worked in Benner Library during summer and holiday breaks while he completed his undergraduate studies at Asbury University and a master’s degree at Asbury Theological Seminary. After graduation, and his wedding to Amber (McKean) ’08/’13 M.O.L., Kyle accepted an open position in the library — a department in which he has served for more than 12 years.
In his role as Systems Librarian, Kyle oversees all aspects of Olivet’s library management system. He ensures that resource and user records are accurate and up-to-date, develops workflows for maximum efficiency, and provides training and troubleshooting help to library staff. Last year his role was critical in implementing the library’s migration to a new, web-based system that offers enhanced integrations and resource accessibility to students, faculty, and staff.
In January 2020, Kyle was appointed the Director of Emergency Management. With the swift onset of the pandemic, the theoretical effectiveness of the University’s ability to cope in a crisis was immediately put to the test. Over the past year, Kyle was instrumental in coordinating strategic groups of faculty and staff to plan, implement and effectively communicate necessary changes based on guidance from the CDC and state governing bodies. He conducted weekly — and at times, daily — meetings of the COVID Steering Committee and its sub-committees, which closely monitored the effects of the virus and proposed campus changes to the president’s cabinet.
“In some ways, the responsibility of the past year felt like the future of the University was on me. Ensuring a healthy learning environment for students and the entire Olivet community was a critical goal to work toward. While the circumstances haven’t been preferable, being able to use my skills in this tangible way for the present and future success of the University has been very gratifying.”
For more information about campus events, visit Olivet.edu/edu.