Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Years 11 and 12 (2007-2009)

0. 1997, Year of the Hire
1. 1997-1998 First Year Schenck
2. 1998-1999 Married Schenck
3. 1999-2000 Go New Testament
4. 2000-2001 Williams Prayer Chapel
5. 2001-2002 The Year of 9-11
6. 2002-2003 The Greece Trip
7. 2003-2004 The Sabbatical
8. 2004-2005 The Israel Trip
9. 2005-2006 The Year of the Bernii
10. 2006-2007 Seminary Rumblings

This will be my last post in this series. Wednesday morning, d.v., I will rise early and drive to my new home, Houghton College! Expect me to introduce you to/remind you of this fantastic academic community in the days ahead! It has such a rich legacy!

1. President Henry Smith charged me in the summer of 2007 to lead a task force to design a Master of Divinity degree. The task force consisted of Russ Gunsalus, Keith Drury, David Smith, Norm Wilson and myself. Smith charged us to design an MDIV which was where the Association of Theological Schools was headed rather than where it currently was.

President Smith was taking the process in stages. This task force was only to design the degree. There would be another task force to decide whether to start a seminary and where this new degree would be housed. Just as Henry Smith had initially, I met with the three General Superintendents at the time (Earle Wilson, Tom Arminger, Jerry Pence) to get feedback on how the new MDIV was shaping up.

I would say that the resulting MDIV had three key innovative features. I would credit Keith Drury for the best of them. The first was a local church focus. We wanted to up-end the priorities of ministerial education. Whereas the traditional seminary tended to focus first on theory and the foundational disciplines of Bible, theology, and church history, we wanted to focus on the practical and how to do the work of the ministry. There was a bias toward problem based learning and inductive learning from practice. So you would need to be connected to a church for about 20 hours a week to be in the degree.

The second was spiritual formation. I remember meeting in the downstairs, "Keith Springer room" when Keith Drury rattled off a spiritual formation sequence that would accompany every semester of the MDIV. Rather than only focus on spiritual disciplines, the whole sequence would lead the student through a process of change--1) how does change happen, 2) who are you now, 3) where are you going, 4) you'll need help to get there, 5) classical spiritual disciplines, 6) crossing the finish line.

I probably need to take the blame for the third distinctive part, which is a beautiful idea but maybe not the greatest in practice. The courses would be integrated and team-taught. You would have Bible, theology, church history, and the practice of ministry all in the same course.

It was soon decided that the process of approving the new degree would go through the College of Graduate Studies, which put the ball in Russ' domain. A financial pro-forma was made (by Allyn Beekman). And before you know it Senate had approved the degree, August 22, 2007. In February 2008 Russ got the old gang back together on retreat to write the first course. More to come.

2. 2007 was the year the old College Wesleyan Church was deconsecrated (October 2007) and the church moved into the new building where it is today on 38th Street. This move enabled the Division of Religion and Philosophy to move into the old CWC while Noggle was renovated. So religion classes met in the old College Wesleyan church that spring.

3. David Vardaman joined the faculty in the fall of 2007. He had been on staff at College Wesleyan and he slid right into teaching counseling and leadership courses for the Religion Division. I have immense respect for him, not only for his leadership insights but also for his character. I've mentioned that he will be taking over as Interim Dean this week.

While I'm at it, let me mention some of the other cast of characters who have come (and some gone) in these years. Scott Burson had been working in marketing from 2002-2008. In 2008 he joined the Religion Division teaching philosophy. He is probably IWU's best online professor on the residential side. He also advises the Sports Ministry major. He's a C. S. Lewis expert, leading regular England trips, and he is also an expert on Brian McLaren. He publishes a great deal.

Abson Joseph came in 2011 to teach New Testament. He would then become seminary dean in January 2017. For a time Bart Bruehler had a joint appointment between the Religion Division and the adult programs, beginning around 2010. He is currently working entirely on the adult side. Sarah Derck (whom I will be joining at Houghton this week!) taught Old Testament for us in the 2011-12 year while Lennox was on sabbatical, as I recall.

Although she was in the Honors College, IWU was privileged to have Amy Peeler teach at the university from 2010-12, I believe. I wish we could have found a position for her, but I guess she's probably happy enough at Wheaton. :-)

4. The most interesting teaching venture of the year was a Hebrews course I taught in a blended fashion in spring 2008. You could come to the classroom (which was in the southeast corner of CWC) or you could attend virtually or you could watch the recording later. I tried to encourage people outside of IWU not only to join and participate but to take the class. There were a few students taking it on a graduate level as well.

IWU was using Adobe Connect at the time for its conferencing software. It wasn't the best. Zoom has proved to be the bomb. But it worked fine. It was a great experiment. Participants in the experiment included individuals like Aaron Cloud, Jordan Gardner, Logan Hoffman, Mary Nolen, Annette (Payne) Hoyt, Chris Tabone, Josh Wiley, and Joel Yoshonis.

One thing I learned is that most students would choose the online option over the classroom. There were usually only a handful of people who joined me face-to-face. The majority also did not come to the live session but watched the recording. I set up a blog for discussion after the live session.

In the fall of 2007 Eric Key got a group together to do one of those value added electives. He wanted to study hermeneutics on a more advanced level. We read Kevin Vanhoozer's Is There a Meaning in this Text and Grant Osborne's The Hermeneutical Spiral. Students in that group included Johnnie Blair, Greg Boyland, Brian Episcopo, Hannah (Smith) Episcopo, John Harmon, Heath Jones, Eric Key, Josh Lemons, and Zach Working.

Other courses these two years included:
  • I taught General Epistles both in the fall of 2007 and 2009. 2007 included students like Greg Boyland, Glen Davis, Joel Higgenbotham, Eric Key, Abby Lennox, Bryan Lloyd, Burke Sullivan, and Chris Tabone. 2009 included Jeff Bakos, John Miller, Graham Smith, and Josh Wiley.
  • I taught Intertestamental Period in both the fall of 2007 and 2009. The 2009 class would be the last time the course was taught at IWU up to the present. Students in 2007 included Anton Folz, John Harmon, Scott Hendricks, Elijah McKnight, Josh Wiley, and Jonathan Woods. The 2009 class included Joel Clark, Michael Henry, Caleb Landis, and Josh Rodriguez.
  • In the spring of 2009 I taught Corinthians and Thessalonians. Students included Jeremy Armiger, Angela (Bozak) Scully, Joel Clark, Sharon Hendricks, Liz McClellan, Adam Otto, Zach Vincent, and Joel Larison.
  •  I taught IBS in the fall of 2007. I see Mark Shepherd, Anthony Livoti, and Emily (Voss) Slabaugh in the fall (by the way, this was the group that I somehow mixed with my 9-11 class. I'm wondering if this class met in that upstairs room in Noggle). 
  • I taught beginning Greek in the spring 2008. In the class were students like Wes Ball, Jeff Bakos, Melissa Curran, Simeon Purkey, Josh Wiley, and Ryan Wright.
  • I also have fond memories of teaching Greek IV in CWC to Elijah McKnight and Glenn Davis. We often didn't get much Greek done.
5. We had a wealth of visitors come through in the 2007-2008 year:
  • I forgot to mention that we cooperated with Taylor University to bring New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall to speak on November 15, 2006. He has since passed.
  • Bill Placher came from Wabash College to speak November 1, 2007. He also has since passed.
  • The very next week Jamie Smith came, November 7, 2007. Several of us remarked that he was the most Wesleyan Calvinist we had ever met, probably because his origins were in Pentecostalism.
  • Randy Maddox came for the Religion Colloquium in April 2008.
  • Ken Collins presented the Cox Holiness Lectures in March 2008. These lectures were set up by Leo Cox who used to teach in the Religion Division.
  • Randy Maddox came in April 2008 to speak.
  • Mark Noll wandered through in March.
6. I was on a couple committees in those final days before the jump to seminary. I found myself on the gen ed committee for the first time in the 2008-2009 year. There were forces that I didn't like at the time but have come to accept. Brad Garner, I believe, was hoping to convince us to go to more of a buffet model of gen eds.

The other was a task force that had to do with the changing structure of the university. The university would implement a five "principal academic unit" structure in 2009--CAS, CAPS, Grad School, Nursing, and Seminary. The task force had to figure out what the representation of each would be in the University Senate. It got pretty heated. I thought it appropriate for CAS and CAPS to have the same number of representatives. Another member of the committee strongly argued that it should be by number of faculty.

A compromise was reached, as I recall. But it was the first time I remember ever losing my cool in debate over such things.

7. My blogging continued.
  • A piece on evolution is one of my posts with the most hits over time: "Why William Jennings Bryan Opposed Evolution"
  • A post that gives a good deal of insight into my philosophy of innovation is Erasmus Wins
  • In the election of 2008, I posted a video of me reading "Green Eggs and McCain" to my kids. The reaction was strong enough within the first few minutes that I took it back down.
  • I wrote the majority of a possible book, Brief Guide to Critical Issues in the Bible.
  • I used the blog to continue work on my philosophy textbook. I would largely finish it while on another Fulbright sabbatical in Munich, Germany in the fall of 2011.
8. At long last, a revised and supplemented version of my dissertation came out with Cambridge University Press in January 2008. It was some 12 years after the original was finished. (sigh) At the 2007 SBL Jewish Christianity Group I presented another rumbling of my Scotland idea: "The Levitical Cultus and the Partitioning of the Ways in Hebrews."

The Theological Symposium of the Wesleyan Church in 2009 was on hermeneutics, and I presented again. A particularly interesting paper to me was that of Bob Black, where he gave a history of the idea of inerrancy in the Wesleyan Church.

9. In the spring of 2008, Dr. Henry Smith charged me to lead yet another task force. This one was the Seminary Task Force, dealing specifically with the possibility of housing the new MDIV degree in a seminary. At one point in the process, all three general superintendents came to a meeting at IWU (unprecedented). In August, we had a site visit from the Higher Learning Commission to approve our concept for an MDIV degree.

At the June General Conference, I met with all the District Superintendents to get feedback and buy-in. I offered my idea that, "Real denominations have seminaries. Are we mature enough as a denomination to have a seminary?" One DS quipped in return, "Or are we now in decline and so wanting a seminary?" :-)

A restructuring of the university was approved at the April board meeting, 2009. And so on July 1, 2009, Russ became the Chief Operating Officer of the new seminary, and I the Dean. Nate Lamb came back to do admissions, and Scott Burson helped with marketing.

As for the rest of the acts of the seminary during my six years as Dean from 2009-2015, are they not written in the annals known as Six Years a Dean?

Here endeth the IWU reading.

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