Last week I shared some preliminary thoughts on my retirement as the president of the University of Valley Forge on June 30, 2016. And since the UVF Board of Trustees surprised and blessed Evie and me with a one year sabbatical when I will serve as President Emeritus with no responsibilities from June 2016 to June 2017, this season of our lives will soon be coming to a close.
As this new season unfolds, I will share here from time to time some of the new experiences that I encounter. A few weeks ago I told my dear friend Pastor Jack Mason of our pending retirement. We were college classmates and he served as lead pastor of Grace Assembly of God Spring City, Pennsylvania, for 47 years until he recently retired.
“As the time of your retirement gets closer,” he said, “you will gradually feel the responsibilities on your shoulders begin to lift.” With about one month to go, I am beginning to understand what he meant.
It seems like just yesterday we were new to this campus and we were experiencing a whole new set of “firsts.” We started our first college year. I spoke in chapel for the first time. We began to see the first signs of progress on campus. We attended our first “Christmas at Valley Forge” and our first “Spring Banquet.” Of course, you never forget your first graduation at the end of your first year.
But those “firsts” soon give way to many others and you turn around a few times and before you know it you are on the threshold of the beginning of “lasts.” As someone said, “Days go slow; years go fast.” And though Evie and I savored each year and celebrated each campus improvement and each community connection, the time has come for this chapter in our lives to come to a close.
Last fall was our last “Christmas at Valley Forge” and a few weeks ago was our last “Spring Banquet.” I spoke for the last time in our chapel and we had our last graduation.
And, as we now realize those were our “lasts,” we look back with profound gratitude at the faithfulness of God through these incredible years. I can truthfully say that there has never been a day when I have walked across this beloved UVF campus from the old farmhouse where we live, to arrive at my office and place the key in the door, that I have not had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the privilege Evie and I have had to be here.
Our 20th and last UVF graduation, Commencement 2016, with 158 graduates going out to change the world, was another reminder of that.
Prior to coming to UVF, Evie and I served for 21 years at North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I taught full-time for three years and was vice president of academic affairs for 18. The year I started there was 1976 and I was 30 years old.
I wish I could share with you the gracious reflections of students from over the years at the time we made our retirement announcement a few weeks ago. I will always be grateful for my professors and mentors who poured themselves into my life, and to have had a small part doing that with those precious students has been the joy of my life. And now to see them living out their “calling and dreams” as they lead, literally all over the world, is inspiring beyond anything I could ever express. They have been and always will be our joy.
The landing gear is now coming down on this season for Evie and me and we are excited beyond words for the limitless adventures which are ahead for us.
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.