As Interim President Paige Cunningham becomes a more familiar face around campus, students are curious to know more about who she is outside of her eloquent speeches, evident passion for Taylor and love for the Lord.
Cunningham was delighted to share some more tidbits about her personal life and had some sage advice to offer the student body along the way.
Q: You’ve said you love your husband’s cooking. Does Jay Cunningham have a signature dish?
A: “He is always trying new things, and one of his favorite things to do is to try out a new recipe when we have guests over. So it could be a wonderful success or an interesting surprise!”
Every year, the Cunninghams throw a big New Year’s Eve party, and this is when he really dives into his culinary talents. They serve several courses to party guests and make a tradition out of it. Paige does the ambience and the menus, and her husband and another good friend who’s also an amatuer chef decide on what we’re going to eat.
“Last year we did a ‘something old, something new,’ so we pulled out some favorites from previous meals.There’s an avocado crab tower, there's a wonderful carrot soup . . . it’s a whole event and entertainment and we then have friends who come out of town and spend the night with us . . . it’s also our wedding anniversary, so we never forget to celebrate because we’re always having this big event.”
Q: What are some other hobbies you have, or other things you and the family like to bond over?
A: “I actually like to walk through cemeteries. They’re different in different parts of the world and they tell you something about the people who lived there and what was the mood of the time depending on what you put on the headstones. The Scottish have very elaborate messages on their headstones — they tell you a lot more about the person and their character and their qualities . . . it’s really evocative. Among other things, it reminds us that we are connected to the past, that we all have stories that go back many generations before we ever came on the scene.”
Paige appreciates reminders of human mortality, as she believes earthly fame isn’t nearly as important as the eternal aspect of our lives. She takes comfort in knowing God remembers everything we’ve done and everything is written in his book.
Outside of exploring cemeteries, Paige enjoys trying new board games, downhill skiing with her family and long walks with Jay.
Q: Since we’re on the subject, do you have any relationship advice for the rest of the student body?
A: “I think there are two keys for marriages to last — for a marriage that endures. One is promising, because making a promise changes your future. Jay and I made a promise to each other — and we had some pretty bad fights and some pretty rough years - that divorce was not an option . . . which brings me to the second (key) which is forgiveness. Because forgiveness is the power to change the past. Forgiveness can work immediately if it’s genuine repentance and genuine forgiveness . . . it’s one of the most powerful abilities we have as Christians.”
Paige also believes people are significantly impacted by the culture around marriage. She’s learned that if a couple lives in a place where divorce is common and normalized then it is far more likely. She encourages young people to surround themselves with positive, enduring relationships or change the culture around them if there is a precedent for unhealthy relationships.
Paige emphasized she and Jay have been married 41 years and gained wisdom from listening to others who have walked before them.
“(Marriage) is not going to fix what’s wrong with you.Your husband is not going to meet every need. But it can be a wonderful relationship that helps us understand a little picture of Jesus and his bride. My husband still calls me his bride.”
Recently, the Cunninghams welcomed a new addition to the family: a granddaughter, Louisa Lenée Fox. She was named after the women in the family before her as she shares Cunningham’s middle name and a variation of Cunningham’s mother’s first name, which was Louis.