Issue: Spring/Summer 2014

President's Reflection

Shirley A. Mullen, 76

Throughout history when God calls his people to great tasks, He first calls them to come apart for a season of preparation. For Moses and for our Lord, it was time in the wilderness. For Houghton students from across the decades, their time at Houghton provided this season of preparation. The coming apart provides space and time for soul searching and for sorting out personal priorities. It also provides a place of distance from which to get a larger perspective on one’s own journey and on the world in general. Finally, it invites opportunity for reflection, for discovery, for imagination and creativity.

In the end, however, the coming apart is not an end in itself. The coming apart is for the sake of the “real world.” (We learn to recognize God’s voice in the burning bush so we can hear it more clearly back in Pharaoh’s palace.) For more than 130 years, God has been using Houghton — this place apart — to prepare His people for service in the very heart of the world’s most challenging situations. Wherever we look on the globe, we can find Houghton stories, stories of God’s creative and redeeming grace at work through Houghton alumni.

Today, some of the most challenging “real world” situations are in the areas of education and health care. We too often picture teachers, doctors, and nurses operating in situations of domesticated calm, rather than in places that require the mental and physical agility of the battlefield or the moral clarity and courage of Plato’s Philosopher Kings. Here at the beginning of the 21st century, education and health care systems are struggling over issues that require not just professional and technical competence but deep understanding of the moral and spiritual dimensions of the human condition. It is not enough in this moment to know how to teach Johnny to read or how to diagnose a heart condition. Teachers and health care professionals today must be able to think and speak well in areas of justice and values. What is worth teaching and knowing? What quality of life is worth living? How do we distribute the vast resources of education and health care in ways that are just and that promote individual and collective well-being?

It is for just these challenging times and for these complex circumstances in the very “real world” that a Houghton education prepares graduates. We invite you to enjoy this issue of Houghton magazine as our faculty and alumni consider what it means to carry out Houghton’s mission of “leading and laboring as scholar-servants in the changing worlds” of education and health care.

Shirley A. Mullen, Class of 1976


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