Dear Members of the Morningside University Family,
It is with great hope and enthusiasm that I greet you on my first day as your new president. Please know how extraordinarily honored and humbled I am to have been chosen to lead Morningside into the next phase of its exciting journey.
I commence my presidency with a very fond appreciation for the remarkable leadership of President Emeritus John Reynders. He has left Morningside in a strong position and much like in a relay race, the baton has now been passed to me. Together, I look forward to building upon our previous successes and continuing Morningside’s upward trajectory.
As we begin, I want to share with you what I have been doing to prepare for this day, how I intend to connect with you, and then offer a brief word about the way forward.
Leading Up to the Transition
Though today is my first official day as president, preparation began almost immediately after my appointment was announced in December. I want to express my sincerest appreciation for the hospitality the Morningside family has shown me in that time. You have truly lived up to your reputation of fostering a sense of community and connectedness. This is a very special place, and it is absolutely the right place for my family and me.
For several months now, I have engaged in regular and insightful conversations with our board chair, Esther Mackintosh and other board members; with President Emeritus Reynders; and with all members of the senior staff. These conversations have primarily been designed to gradually introduce me to Morningside and its culture. While I have learned a great deal about the University, there is still much more to know. I deeply appreciate the time that these leaders have afforded me and eagerly await learning more from the Morningside collective.
Early in the spring semester, a Transition Committee was formed to help create a framework that will assist me in my efforts to further familiarize myself with Morningside’s culture, key contacts, relationships, and the greater Siouxland community. Representatives on this committee include students, faculty, staff, the community, and the Board of Directors who have been hard at work designing a process that will help me to make the transition more easily to my new community. With that being said, during the first few months of my presidency much of my energies will be focused on connecting with many of you while identifying common goals and passions. I am especially looking forward to meeting more of our passionate, thoughtful, and accomplished students, as well as our extraordinarily talented faculty and staff.
Connecting with You
Becoming acquainted with the Morningside community remains my top priority as my tenure begins. The conversations during my brief visits to campus and other meetings have already been of great benefit to me, and I intend for those to be ongoing.
While some of those conversations may begin and continue as we go about our business here on campus, I also want to be intentional about hosting meetings and events where such dialogue can occur. Travel and events with individuals and groups will be a regular part of my schedule. I also plan to continue traditions like our opening session, new employee and welcome back celebrations, first-year/new student dinners, Taste of Morningside, and the 50/60-Year Reunion. While there may be slight alterations to the location or timing of these events, continuing these opportunities for fellowship and celebrating Morningside is important to me. Please watch for more information coming soon.
I also plan to continue the open-door policy that leadership has offered here at Morningside. My assistant, Lisa Krohn, has facilitated meetings and conversations here at Morningside for many years, and she will continue to be your resource for connecting with me. Please contact her if you wish to share your thoughts or set up a meeting.
Our Next Steps
Amidst my great excitement for Morningside and this opportunity, I also recognize there is much work to be done in both the near future and the long-term.
Near future, we are all focused on getting the 2022-2023 academic year off to a strong start. That includes welcoming back our returning students and celebrating the arrival of the Class of 2026. We are also in the throes of preparing for our decennial accreditation review process with the Higher Learning Commission, with many faculty and staff having already committed countless hours to ensuring its success. Additionally, I will be working with the campus community to identify work and projects that need immediate attention to ensure that Morningside continues operating smoothly.
Meanwhile, our long-term work requires a much more in-depth discussion about our future. The marketplace for small private, enrollment-driven institutions like ours is challenging. We will need a robust strategy for what comes next. You are an important part of that discussion as one of our stakeholders. I look forward to your active participation as we explore ways to make our community’s common vision and goals a reality through reasoned decision-making and Morningside’s well-established culture of shared governance.
Morningside is a remarkable institution with a unique and palpable sense of community. I am excited to be joining you at a time of great possibility, and I am committed to making Morningside’s distinctive strengths even better known in the coming years so that we will rightly be seen as one of the best places for learning in the 21st century.
I look forward to getting to know you and encourage you to stay connected and engaged as we begin this new chapter together.
With warmest regards and extreme gratitude for all that is before us,