Q: “What have you learned from students during your time here?" -- Holly Gaskill, junior
A: Fun is contagious! And exuberant cheering is better than energy drinks!
On a more serious note, I’ve learned how much students want to be here. Even if it’s not the perfect experience — and nothing truly is — you are willing to do whatever it takes to have in-person classes, live chapel, wing meetings and extracurricular activities … and to celebrate even small steps toward “normal.”
Q: "Biggest struggle, aside from COVID, that you have dealt with as Taylor President? Has it been hard for you and Jay not living together all the time?" -- Rachel Boyer, sophomore
A: Actually, we’ve spent more time together in the past 12 months than in most of our marriage. Jay has a work-from-home office in the Tyndale House Studio (it’s the building near Muselman House that looks like a garage … because that’s what it used to be). A lot of the time, we were both working from home all day. And he’s been on campus a lot … it’s just that, like everyone else, we weren’t able to socialize much.
Biggest non-COVID struggle: It’s hard to pick just one, but thinking back to when I arrived, I was overwhelmed with the complexities of being a president. The job has many roles, many constituencies, and you have to pivot (students, donors, alumni, faculty, staff, media, presidents who are peers, professional associates).
Q: "What do you think about a 5 year all year around degree track to slow down the academic pace?" -- Drew Jordahl, junior
A: I don’t think parents would like the extra tuition! Some students add another semester or two due to demanding majors or adding a second major. But the trend is toward reducing the number of semesters through dual-credit courses and other options. (I tested out of about one semester of credits as a student).
Instead of five years of college, why not consider a gap year between high school and college?
Q: "What types of rhythms in your life would you prescribe for your students to imitate?" -- Teagan Kauufman, senior
A: I wouldn’t prescribe anything. It can cause guilt. I’ll just share some things I currently do.
Daily? Walks. I also do stairs in the morning while my coffee is brewing, to get the blood moving. Morning quiet time that includes at least one Bible verse (actually, I would prescribe that, because otherwise, you’re subsisting on zero spiritual calories). Phone conversations with friends (in person is better, of course).
Stay curious. Keep learning. I always read something unrelated to work before turning out the light (right now it varies between “Commentary” magazine, Bruce Shelley’s “Church History in Plain Language,” and Thaddeus Williams’ “Confronting Injustice without Compromising the Truth”.) Weekly? Sunday corporate worship. (Plus TU chapel as often as I can.) Quarterly, if possible. Get away from campus for a weekend. Annual. Family vacation!