“The future is you. This University will be what we make it. That is a huge responsibility, but also a marvelous opportunity.” – Dr. John C. Bowling
On Thursday, August 22, 2019, President John C. Bowling and his wife, Jill, hosted Olivet Nazarene University employees at the annual President’s Dinner in Chalfant Hall. This longstanding tradition, first hosted by ONU President Harold Reed in 1950, serves to gather members of the faculty and staff before the start of a new academic year.
Faculty and staff accomplishments and significant anniversary milestones are celebrated during the dinner. The president additionally awards a Faculty Member of the Year and a Staff Member of the Year to representatives who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service in their roles on campus. This year, Gary Newsome ’74 was honored as the 2019 Faculty Member of the Year and Rob Lalumendre ’12/’14 MBA was honored as the 2019 Staff Member of the Year.
Following nine seasons as head football coach, Gary Newsome became director of athletics in 2008. During his tenure, he has overseen the development of thousands of athletes and Olivet’s athletic program has expanded to include women’s golf, women’s and men’s swimming, women’s and men’s junior varsity (JV) soccer, JV volleyball and JV football.
For ten consecutive years, Olivet has been recognized as the top program in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. “My job at Olivet has been wonderful because of the amazing people I get to work with every day,” says Gary. “I strongly believe in the importance of servant leadership and it is incredible to see that modeled at Olivet in our entire coaching staff.”
During his career at Olivet, Rob Lalumendre managed daily operations during the construction of the Perry Student Life and Recreation center; he helped launch a green initiative in building services to standardize procedures and reduce chemical usage; and he secured a grant from Keep America Beautiful to increase recycling capacity on campus.
In his current role as director of the Physical Plant, Rob says, “I feel that it’s my responsibility to find the most efficient and effective ways to creatively problem solve. Every person who steps on campus is a customer; and I’m always looking for ways to make the biggest positive impact for them.”
During the Presidential Address, in which Dr. Bowling cast a vision for the future of the University, he announced his plans to retire from his role as president after an 18 month transition period. He will conclude his 30-year tenure in May 2021. A national search to identify presidential candidates will begin this October, during the semiannual meeting of Olivet’s Board of Trustees.
Dr. Bowling, the institution’s longest-serving president, was installed in 1991. Under his leadership the University has flourished and emerged as one of the largest Christian Universities in the United States. This extraordinary progress is evidenced by continued record enrollments, stunning campus improvements, expanded undergraduate and graduate degree programs – including the addition of a doctoral degree, increased academic standards, successful athletic programs and multiple education sites across three states along with a strong online presence, known as “ONU Global.”
Dr. Bowling holds a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, two earned doctorates, and was chosen as a Resident Fellow for post-doctoral studies at Harvard University. In 2007, he was honored by Olivet with the conferral of the Doctor of Divinity degree as part of the University’s Centennial Celebration.
In his closing remarks at the dinner, Dr. Bowling encouraged the faculty and staff to continue to “dig a deep well” of learning, leadership and service, character development, meaningful relationships and vibrant spirituality as the University carries on a great legacy of “Education with a Christian Purpose.” Following is an extended quotation from his address.
King Solomon noted, To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. It has been a rich privilege to serve with you in this very important work.
Looking ahead, I want you to know that I do not intend to coast or drift my way to retirement. My goal is to hit the finish line at full speed. The University cannot afford to wait or mark time as the clock runs down. This work is too important.
Therefore, as we look ahead, let us be reminded of these three things:
1. The future is now. Much of whatever we desire or expect regarding the days to come will flow from our actions today. Therefore, let us make the most of this year.
2. The future is you. This University will be what we make it. That is a huge responsibility, but also a marvelous opportunity.
3. The future is in God's hands. Surely, "he who began a good work in [ONU] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Photos: Image Group Photography