Perhaps you have heard the news that I am retiring as President of the University of Valley Forge on June 30, 2016. For some time Evie and I have been pondering the possibilities of retirement, knowing that sooner rather than later this time would come. I have often said that the calendar always wins and, after all, I did turn 70 last October.
For any major decision in life, timing is everything. Early in life we ask questions like “When should we get married?” and “When is it time to start our family?” Soon we ask “Should I take this job?” and “Where should we live?” and “What kind of car should I drive?” As the years roll on and we move through the seasons of life, the questions keep coming.
Eventually we bump up against the retirement question. My brother is just a bit older than me and he retired a few years ago. I will never forget his wise words when he suggested that I not be offended when people start asking me when I was going to retire. At first, he said, it would probably startle me (and it did) but he also said it was a normal part of life (and it was) and those who were asking were not hinting (and they weren’t, I don’t think), they were simply addressing the reality of life.
Over the years Evie and I have listened to the way people talk about their retirement. For some, we hear between the lines of their words a subtle sense that perhaps they retired a bit early. For others, we hear between the lines that they may have retired a little late.
At the top of my personal mission statement, I have always had the words in the Old Testament text from Joshua 22:3. Joshua said, “You have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you.” Evie and I have always had this as our prayer that no matter what we did, when the time came to finish we could, by God’s grace, say that we had “completed the mission” that was given to us.
In our April 2016 letter to the University of Valley Forge Board of Trustees, we explained that we initially planned to retire in 2013 but, due to circumstances that arose at UVF, we delayed our retirement three different times. But, in our letter we also explained that we now felt the time was right to make the announcement in 2016 and retire in June 2017.
But that is not the end of the story. Upon meeting together, the UVF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to surprise us and bless both Evie and me with a one year sabbatical with full salary and benefits beginning this June 2016 until next June 2017. I will have the title of President Emeritus with no responsibilities. That is Evie’s favorite part. We don’t have the words to express how enormously grateful we are at this incredible gesture of appreciation from the Board to us for our years of service to the university.
An interim president has been appointed to begin July 2016 and a Search Committee will begin a national search for a new president.
How grateful we are for these incredible years to experience the metamorphosis that UVF has gone through. Cyril Homer, former president of Southeastern University, and his wife were driving out of town as he finished his years of service and when they came to the edge of town he pulled off to the side of the road, stopped the car, looked over at his wife Ruth and said, “We didn’t do all that needs to be done but we did everything that we could.” That is exactly how Evie and I feel in our hearts.
Next week I have a few more retirement thoughts to share.
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of the University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville. Responses can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; Official page: Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer; Follow on Twitter: @DrDonMeyer; Archives at: valleyforge.edu/thinkaboutit.